‘Boss’ star gets political on screen and off set

Using the folk ballad “Satan, Your Kingdom Must Come Down” for a theme song would be a touch over the top on most TV shows. But for Sam Miller, Troy Garity’s crusading journalist on “Boss,” the music seems quite appropriate. 

 “People interested in politics will like this show,” Garity says. “It’s essentially a Shakespearean drama set in modern-day Chicago politics.” 

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In the second season, airing now on Starz, Miller has been promoted from reporter to editor at The Sentinel. But the change in job description isn’t putting the brakes on his “myopic” quest to expose Chicago Mayor Tom Kane (played by Kelsey Grammer), who Miller believes is a “plague to the democratic process.” 

Anyone familiar with the Windy City will find traces of larger-than-life political figures such as Rahm Emanuel and both Richard Daleys in Grammer’s portrayal of Kane. 

The character is constantly “faced with [issues of] mortality, redemption, family and legacy,” Garity explains, and his actions force the question “do the means justify the end?” 

And he notes parallels between his character and Mike Royko, the legendary columnist whose book on the elder Daley (also titled, perhaps not coincidentally, Boss) remains a definitive account of machine politics. 

 He didn’t consciously look toward any real journalists in crafting his role, preferring instead to make Sam Miller an original creation. However, he has used the on-location shooting of the show to “learn as much about Chicago as possible” in order to make his portrayal more authentic. 

 Garity, who describes himself as “very left,” doesn’t share the same views as the conservative Grammer, who endorsed Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) for president last year. 

 As the son of activist and actress Jane Fonda and New Left icon Tom Hayden, it’s perhaps only natural Garity himself has an interest in politics, working particularly on the issue of gang violence. He admits to watching other political dramas, including “The Newsroom,” and is adamant that “ ‘The Wire’ is the greatest political show of all time.” 

 He’s also willing to offer a succinct explanation for why members of the entertainment industry so often delve into the rough-and-tumble world of politics, both on-screen and off. 

 “Actors are naturally passionate people,” he says.