Turning the Page
With the support of her TV family, Chicago P.D.’s script supervisor combats gun violence after the death of her son.
When Patricia Frontain’s son was fatally shot more than two years ago, the cast and crew of NBC’s Chicago P.D. jumped into first-responder mode as compassionate friends.
It was January 2, 2015 — Frontain’s birthday — and she was returning to her job as script supervisor after the holiday break. Her son, 14-year-old Patrick Boswell, sang “Happy Birthday” before rushing out to meet his buddies.
When Patrick didn’t return home that evening, his father, Robert Boswell, scoured their gated community, then came across police activity at apartments some distance away. He showed an officer Patrick’s photo. It was not until the next day that he and Frontain learned for certain that their son was dead. A victim of gun violence, he had simply been in the wrong place at the wrong time.
The gang-related homicide in the Chicago suburbs made headlines — not unlike those that Brian Luce shares with writers for episode ideas. As a Chicago police officer with 27 years of service and stories under his belt, he’s the technical adviser and script consultant for Chicago P.D.
Frontain calls Luce the “heart and soul” of the production; he calls her “remarkable.” He was the first person she called with the news. He contacted their television family, who rushed to her side.
“We’re an exceptionally close group,” Frontain says. “They went to work, then stayed with us. They sent checks.”
Since then, she’s had some tough days on set, with the authenticity of the show prompting grief and tears. If assistant director Thomas Burke foresees a particularly troubling storyline, Frontain may not work that episode. As the family navigated the court system, Luce was there. Patrick’s killer was sentenced almost two years after the shooting.
“I could have gone under the covers,” Frontain says, “but that wouldn’t have helped anything or anybody.”
With the support of family and friends, she founded Patrick Lives On…To End Gun Violence. The nonprofit develops educational outreach programs, teaches kids conflict resolution and produces anti-gun violence PSAs. Twenty spots, written and performed by Chicago P.D . talent, are scheduled to air this fall.
Postproduction time and facilities were donated by Wolf Films, which produces Chicago P.D., Chicago Fire and Chicago Med at Cinespace Chicago. Last September, the three shows joined forces for a fundraiser and to celebrate the launch of the group’s website, PatrickLivesOn.org. This year’s fundraiser will be held September 9 at Cinespace, Chicago.
“If we can save one life,” Luce says, “if we can get one young person to put down a gun, it’s a win.”
This article originally appeared in emmy magazine, Issue No. 7, 2017