(UPDATED again with new details)
Kelsey Grammer is plotting a return to TV.
Starz has given an eight-episode order to “Boss,” which will star Grammer as the powerful mayor of Chicago. Gus Van Sant is also on board to direct the pilot.
Project was the subject of a fierce bidding war between four networks, but Starz topper Chris Albrecht scored the show by stepping up with an eight-episode order.
Hour-long will focus on power and personal dynamic; insiders call it “a modern-day ‘Spartacus.’”
Farhad Safinia (“Apocalypto”) wrote the script on spec and has been working for some time with Grammer on hammering out the project.
Safinia and Grammer were introduced to each other by producer Stella Stolper and manager Brian Sher, who now serves as Grammer’s new partner at his shingle Grammnet Prods. Sher’s management clients include Safinia.
Grammer, Safinia, Sher and Stolper will all exec produce “Boss.”
Lionsgate is the studio, while Grammnet gets a production credit. Production on “Boss” will begin in the spring; producers are eyeing Chicago to shoot.
Grammer’s credits, of course, include his lengthy, multiple-Emmy-winning turn as “Frasier.”
“Boss” not only reps Grammer’s first major TV drama role, but also reps the first TV project for Van Sant, the helmer behind classics such as “My Own Private Idaho,” “Drugstore Cowboy,” “Good Will Hunting” and “Milk.”
New project is the first in TV for Grammer since ABC’s short-lived “Hank,” and the first in cable for the thesp. Grammer has also experienced a flourishing TV producing career; but word of the Starz project comes on the same day that CBS confirmed that “Medium,” which he produces, is ending its run.
“Boss” was packaged by WME — which, coincidentally, is run by Ari Emanuel, whose brother Rahm is now running for mayor of Chicago.