Denis Leary on USA's 'Sirens': There Are Some Boundaries

Michael Mosley Kevin Daniels Sirens - P 2013
Tommy Garcia/USA Network

Denis Leary turned the tables on reporters at Saturday's winter Television Critics Association press day, quizzing everyone on how long they've been "trapped in this hotel."

"Is everything paid for?" Leary asked, and when a reporter said, 'No,' he responded in classic fashion: "You're shitting me?!" and later offered that Sirens -- USA Network's first comedy -- pay the bill if it's on for years.

Sirens, based on a U.K. format, centers on three of Chicago’s best EMTs, whose sometimes silly, self-righteous and even self-destructive personalities make them unqualified for sustaining relationships, friendships and most occupations.

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"I was a big fan of [executive producer] Bob [Fisher]'s and I wanted to co-write the thing so I wouldn't be responsible for f---ing up the British series," Leary told reporters at the Television Critics Association press tour, keeping it light by throwing out a joke: "I don't think there's enough guys dressed up as EMTs in the lobby."

It was actually the producers of the British series who approached Leary and his producing partner, Jim Serpico, about adapting it for U.S. television. At that point, "USA was pillaging the cast of Rescue Me and putting them into shows," Leary joked, citing Daniel Sunjata and Callie Thorne. "I think we can make some money off USA."

Though Leary has no plans to appear on the show, he said that if there was an opportunity for crossovers with the original British stars (including Game of Thrones alum Richard Madden), he would be all for it. "If our show takes off and we go into season two, I would love to ... cross over," he said.

Some of the absurd plots highlighted during the series include an episode focusing on porn. "A lot of the stories we're using come from EMTs that we know," Leary said. "It does allow us to be absolutely insanely funny without having to carry the weight."

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Because Sirens airs on USA, a network that isn't as edgy as FX, Leary -- who starred on Rescue Me -- is aware of the boundaries.

"You have to draw some personal boundaries," he said. "The porn episode is a good example where we discuss the idea and some people at USA asked, 'How far would you go?'" One of the best notes an executive gave on Sirens for that episode, Leary recalled was, "You can't show the horse getting a blow job." But he credited the network for allowing them to film everything before deciding to scale things back, adding that they only went for the absurdity "if it's funny."

As the cast told it, the characters informed how they would react to certain situations that would come up in the script.

Said Kevin Bigley, who plays one of the EMTs: "They have an amazing sense of humor and the way they tell these stories, they find the comedy themselves." Added Michael Mosley: "It's like a coping mechanism."

Leary discussed the differences between Rescue Me and Sirens.

"On this show, we do the reverse thing from Rescue Me, which was a heavy show," Leary said. "Most of this show, you'll laugh your ass off, then get emotional." One example he gave dealt with Teresa (Jessica McNamee), who flips a switch.

As for guest stars, expect Jean Smart, Lenny Clarke, John Scurti and Bill Nunn to appear on the series.

Watch a sizzle reel below.

Sirens premieres March 6 on USA Network.

Twitter: @insidethetube

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