In 2007, Tom Fontana teamed up with Spike Lee to film a show about a mayor of New York. Bobby Cannavale played hizzoner. Amy Ryan played his assistant. "We would hopefully have been on par with the current crop of government shows like House of Cards or Homeland," says Fontana. The show planned to dive into controversy, which may have made NBC skittish. "I wanted to stir up the dust and ask questions and explore the issues that define where America is in the 21st century," he says. "The network lost faith along the way. I can't tell you exactly what happened, but I know they were nervous about the Muslim story at the center of it. The whole idea of doing a story that implies that there is a prejudice against Muslims post-September 11th made them nervous," he continues, noting that the studio specifically asked him to trim that subplot. (NBC declined to comment.) "Being a Sicilian, I can say it's not personal," says Fontana. "It's business."