Kelsey Grammer's bitter comments about former wife Camille during his "Boss" promotional tour have drawn the focus from the Starz political drama, which premieres Friday night.
But, in a pleasant surprise, it turns out that all those negative remarks actually help sell the former Frasier Crane as ruthless Chicago mayor Tom Kane -- the titular "Boss."
When viewers meet Kane, he's receiving some devastating medical news: He has a rare degenerative brain disorder, one that will debilitate him body and mind, and eventually kill him.
Where Kane receives the news is equally shocking -- no spoilers -- but it provides a big hint about how he operates. He is completely in control, secretive and demanding, and not above using any means necessary to carry out his plans.
A city official and toady to Kane learns that the hard way, as do a local businessman and the doctor who delivers Kane's diagnosis. His methods might impress another TV boss, Tony Soprano.
Gus Vant Sant directed Grammer in the pilot, which establishes that the mayor is more committed to his vision for his city's future, and to trying to repair his relationships.
In the premiere, we learn that Kane is estranged from both his cold wife Meredith (Connie Nielsen) and his drug addict daughter Emma (Hannah Ware), though the specific reasons why aren't revealed yet. Meanwhile, an ambitious reporter (Troy Garity) knows something is up with Kane.
All are good subplots, though it's Grammer's powerful performance that will have viewers talking and tuning in.
"Boss" premieres tonight at 10/9c p.m. on Starz.