"I didn't do it" is the refrain heard in courts and prisons.
While it's often a desperate attempt by the guilty to go free, thousands of wrongly convicted people do languish in prison, and FOX's Proven Innocent (Fridays, beginning Feb. 15) examines those cases. It's a procedural with a crime of the week, often based on real cases, but there's an added layer of mystery unfolding over the season.
Kelsey Grammer stars as Cook County State's Attorney Gore Bellows. And while, after nearly 500 episodes on Cheers and Frasier as good doctor Frasier Crane, most people think of Grammer as the pontificating psychiatrist, he has played dozens of roles on TV, in movies, and onstage. He's been on Broadway five times, three of those in Shakespeare's plays.
Though Bellows comes across as a law-and-order man who has put away hundreds of criminals, when teenage siblings he convicted for murder are found innocent a decade later, his record comes under scrutiny, and he's forced to rethink his methods. The woman he had locked up is now an attorney on a mission: proving innocent those who are unjustly incarcerated.
Of Bellows Grammer says, "We've got to give him a bottom that makes sense," explaining that if he were only nefarious, he wouldn't be much of a character. Grammer's take on Bellows reveals a man certain he is doing the right thing.
The justice system is not just a backdrop for the Friday night drama for Grammer. His father was fatally shot in 1968, and years later, in 1975, his sister was raped and murdered. Having this horrendous personal tragedy informs his character, and he does not play Bellows as one-dimensional.
Between exploring the characters' backstories and drawing on real cases, there's much to mine, and reflecting on the show last summer before shooting began, Grammer says, "It seemed like an interesting world for me to play around in. ... This has a nice cast, and it's at the right time in the realm of what's happening."