Kevin Bacon fights Boston crime in Showtime’s ‘City on a Hill’

New Showtime crime drama is filmed on location in Boston

Kevin Bacon (left) and Aldis Hodge star in the Showtime drama series “City on a Hill,” premiering Sunday.

Boston is famous for many things, one being its history of crime.

Such names as Gaspare Messina, James “Buddy” McLean and James “Whitey” Bulger confirm that – and it’s well-known by Oscar winners Ben Affleck and Matt Damon, who grew up as friends in Cambridge, Mass. Both have made movies about the crime culture related to Boston, and they revisit it as executive producers of “City on a Hill,” a Showtime drama premiering Sunday, June 16.

Developed by fellow executive producer Chuck MacLean from his and Affleck’s idea, the 1990s-set show tenuously teams an assistant district attorney newly relocated from Brooklyn (played by Aldis Hodge, formerly of “Leverage” and “Underground”) and a FBI veteran (Kevin Bacon, returning to series work after “The Following” and “I Love Dick”) whose renown partially cloaks his corrupt ways. The two men pursue a family that robs armored cars, ultimately impacting the whole of criminal justice in Boston.

“The thing about ‘City on a Hill’ that I loved from the first time I read the pilot,” Bacon explains, was that his character “Jackie’s voice was something that I heard. The way that Chuck MacLean constructs dialogue in this world of ‘90s cops and robbers had a kind of gritty vibe to me that was reminiscent of the movies that I loved in the ‘70s from (directors Martin) Scorsese and Sidney Lumet. And I felt like there wasn’t much on television that was really in this pocket.

Kevin Bacon (left) and Aldis Hodge star in the Showtime drama series “City on a Hill,” premiering Sunday.

“Television is great, and there’s a lot of really cool stuff to watch, but nothing that quite feels like this,” adds Bacon. “Also, the thing that I like about ‘City on a Hill’ is that when you go into a situation where there’s crime involved, your character can live most of the time on the job … which is only interesting up to a point as far as I’m concerned as an actor. It gets interesting in ‘City on a Hill’ because he goes home.”

To that end, “Law & Order” and “Crossing Jordan” alum Jill Hennessy also stars as Jackie’s wife. Additional cast members include Cathy Moriarty (“Raging Bull”), Boston native Jonathan Tucker and Mark O’Brien as members of the crime family, as well as Sarah Shahi (“Person of Interest”), Amanda Clayton, Kevin Chapman (also born in Boston), Kevin Dunn and Rory Culkin.

With former “Homicide: Life on the Street” partners Barry Levinson and Tom Fontana, two-time Oscar-ceremony producer Jennifer Todd and filmmaker James Mangold (“Walk the Line”) also among executive producers of “City on a Hill,” Hodge notes that he appreciates his prosecutor alter ego’s dilemma in the series, “fighting for himself at the same time he’s fighting for justice. Which is not a fair fight.”

Jay Bobbin

Jay Bobbin

Jay Bobbin has decades of experience covering the television and movie businesses, winning Tribune Media Services’ Crown Jewel Award in 2008 for his performance in the company. Over those many years of interviewing and writing, he has spoken with everyone from Robert De Niro and John Travolta to Paul McCartney and Tony Bennett … from Meryl Streep and Julie Andrews to Taylor Swift and Carrie Underwood.

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