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Showtime’s series City on a Hill is a family affair, according to its cast and producers.
“This show is nothing but wall-to-wall nepotism,” star Kevin Bacon joked at the show’s premiere screening (sponsored by The Hollywood Reporter) Saturday at the ATX Television Festival.
Creator Chuck MacLean cast relatives in small parts, and Bacon’s wife, actress and director Kyra Sedgwick, directed an episode. Showrunner Tom Fontana, however, says Sedgwick’s involvement in the show had more to do with her relationship with him than her husband’s presence in the cast.
“I worked with Kyra before I worked with Kevin, and I fell in love with her,” Fontana said. “I was at an opening night off Broadway and ran into her, and she said, ‘If you think it would be OK.…’ It literally never had anything to do with Kevin.”
City on a Hill is set in Boston in the early 1990s and centers on Bacon’s FBI agent, Jackie Rohr, and a prosecutor, Deourcy Ward (Aldis Hodge), who form an unlikely partnership on a case involving an armored-car heist that eventually grows to encompass the city’s entire criminal justice system. It’s based on an idea by MacLean and Ben Affleck (who, along with Matt Damon, are executive producers) and the “Boston Miracle,” in which the city saw its violent crime rate plummet starting in the mid-’90s.
MacLean said of casting his relatives, “It’s like Coppola with The Godfather. I didn’t know if I would ever get back here, so I put everyone I could in it.”
Fontana and producing partner Barry Levinson came on board the series after seeing the pilot. The Emmy-winning Oz and Homicide producer said he was very impressed with MacLean’s writing and the vivid setting of the pilot, which was shot on location in and around Boston.
“A crime story generically doesn’t get me very excited,” he said. “But when Showtime asked me to watch the pilot, I was stunned.… It was a very human drama, and I thought, wow, this is something I could be a part of.”
City on a Hill‘s first episode is available online and on-demand now. The series makes its on-air premiere June 16 on Showtime.
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