Trying to find new viewers for the second season of Boss, Starz is marketing it with an arresting image.
Kelsey Grammer, who stars as Chicago mayor "Tom Kane," a role for which he won a Golden Globe for best actor in a drama series, is seen in a slaughterhouse meat locker, surrounded by colleagues and family members, all hanging from hooks along with sides of beef.
"We really wanted, obviously, to attract attention and set Boss apart from other shows that have a political backdrop, as this one does," Nancy McGee, executive vice president of marketing at Starz Media, told Multichannel News. "It's a very raw psychological drama... There's an emotional edge and violence to it that for us made the slaughterhouse metaphor perfect to try to achieve that marketing objective."
Kane, in the show, is diagnosed with a degenerative brain disease that, increasingly in season two, causes him to hallucinate and threatens to bring his life to an end prematurely, as McGee noted.
"He's completely consumed by his obsession with power and this unbelievable desire to preserve his legacy, really at any cost," she said.
Chicago is known for its slaughterhouses, of course, and the first episode of season one is staged in a former abattoir. Kane, at the center of things, sets family and friends hanging until the prove their absolute loyalty, McGee said. "Those who betray him will suffer."
The show, which Starz said averaged 1.3 million viewers per episode on a three-day ratings basis in season one (and 3 million during an average full week), returns Sunday, Aug. 17, at 9 p.m.
McGee said the marketing spend on Boss is fairly comparable to what the network does with all its series, but it's a "significant" multi-platform approach. To entice novice viewers, Starz also is making all eight episodes of season one available to affiliates on demand, something the network typically doesn't do, she said.
Oh, and by the way, the image is a composite photograph (by photographer Mitch Jenkins and agency BLT & Associates) for which the actors really were suspended in air. "It was all very safe" and the actors enjoyed the experience, McGee said.
Surrounding Grammer as Kane in the image above, clockwise from left, are: Connie Nielsen as Chicago's first lady, Meredith Kane; Jonathan Groff as Kane aide Ian Todd; Hannah Ware as the Kanes' daughter, Emma; Sanaa Lathan as Mona Fredericks, the chief of staff to a rival alderman to Kane; Kathleen Robertson as Kitty O'Neill, a former key aide of Kane's, and Jeff Hephner as Ben Zajac, the Illinois state treasurer who is running for governor and is beholden to Kane.