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Category: Underground

WGN America Presents a First Look at the Highly Anticipated Thriller ‘Underground’ at the 2015 Essence Festival

Written By Amanda Kondolojy

 

LOS ANGELES, June 30, 2015 – The cast and creators of WGN America’s highly anticipated, pulse-pounding original series “Underground” will unveil a first-look trailer and participate in a panel session at the 2015 Essence Festival in New Orleans. Series’ stars Jurnee Smollett-Bell (“Friday Night Lights,” “True Blood,” “The Great Debaters”), Aldis Hodge (“Straight Outta Compton,” “Leverage,” “Turn”), Jessica de Gouw (“Arrow,” “Dracula”) and Alano Miller (“Jane The Virgin”) will join creators, writers and executive producers Misha Green (“Sons of Anarchy,” “Heroes”) and Joe Pokaski (“Heroes,” “CSI”) on the Center Stage at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center on Friday, July 3 from 12:45 p.m. – 1:15 p.m. in a not-to-be-missed “Underground” experience for Essence Festival attendees.

 

In WGN America’s “Underground,” bravery, ingenuity and power take center stage as slaves band together in the fight of their lives for their families, their future…and their freedom. Hailing from Sony Pictures Television and Tribune Studios, “Underground” is currently in production on a straight-to-series order in Baton Rouge, Louisiana for a 2016 premiere on WGN America.

 

The “Underground” stars and creators’ appearance at the Essence Festival comes on the heels of WGN America’s recent announcement that breakout star and Smollett-Bell’s brother, Jussie Smollett (“Empire”), has signed on to guest star in the series, marking the first time in 20 years the siblings will be seen together on the small screen.

 

Alongside Smollett-Bell, who stars as Rosalee, a shy house slave with a powerful inner strength and courage, is an internationally renowned cast including Aldis Hodge, who plays Noah, a brave, driven and insanely clever field slave; Emmy Award-nominated actor Christopher Meloni (“Law & Order: Special Victims Unit,” “Sin City: A Dame to Kill For”) as August Pullman, a mysterious figure who walks a tightrope between morality and survival; Jessica de Gouw as Elizabeth Hawkes, a socialite who shares her husband’s abolitionist ideals; Alano Miller as Cato, a cunning, charismatic man despised and feared by his fellow slaves; Adina Porter (“True Blood,” “The 100,” “The Newsroom”) as Pearly Mae, a strong-willed wife and mother; Amirah Vann (“Girls,” “And So It Goes”) as Ernestine, a fiercely devoted mother and head house slave; Marc Blucas (“Blue Bloods”) as John Hawkes, a lawyer whose ideals clash with the legislation he’s sworn to uphold; Mykelti Williamson (“Justified,” “24”) as Moses, a fiery preacher; Reed Diamond (“Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.”) as Tom Macon, a plantation owner and political candidate; and Johnny Ray Gill (“Rectify”) as Sam, Rosalee’s brother and a talented carpenter.

 

“Underground” is created and written by Misha Green and Joe Pokaski, who serve as Executive Producers alongside Academy Award®-winning writer Akiva Goldsman (“A Beautiful Mind,” “I Am Legend”) of Weed Road Pictures, and Tory Tunnell (“King Arthur,” “Holy Rollers”) and Joby Harold (“King Arthur,” “Edge of Tomorrow”) of Safehouse Pictures. Anthony Hemingway (“The Wire,” “Treme”) directs and serves as Executive Producer for the first four episodes.

 

Source

Aldis to Star in Scripted TV Series Based on the Underground Railroad

WGN America is moving forward with its Akiva Goldsman-produced drama Underground, giving the Underground Railroad project a 10-episode straight-to-series order with Christopher Meloni, Jurnee Smollett-Bell, Aldis Hodge and Jessica De Gouw set to star. The pickup comes weeks after NBC at TCA announced Freedom Run, an eight-hour miniseries set against the background of the underground railroad, which was put on a fast track with Stevie Wonder executive producing and writing the score for a Broadway musical based on the mini.

Underground, originally announced by WGNA in August, also is expected to have a top music name involved. I hear Kanye West is in talks for a role on the music side of the series.

Underground, from Sony Pictures TV and Tribune Studios, follows a group of slaves who plan a daring escape from a Georgia plantation to cross 600 miles to freedom, aided along the way by a secret abolitionist couple running a station on the Underground Railroad, as they evade those tasked with bringing them back, dead or alive.

Smollett-Bell (Friday Night Lights) plays Rosalee, a shy house slave with a powerful inner strength and courage; Aldis Hodge (Turn) is Noah, a brave and clever slave on the plantation with dreams of freedom and a dangerous plan to escape; Law & Order: SVU alum Meloni is August, a secretive mercenary who walks a tightrope between survival and morality; De Gouw is Elizabeth, a socialite who shares her husband’s abolitionist ideals.

The series was created and written by Misha Green and Joe Pokaski (Heroes), who also serve as executive producers with Goldsman from Weed Road Pictures, along with Tory Tunnell and Joby Harold from Safehouse Pictures. Anthony Hemingway (Treme) is set to direct the series’ first two episodes. Production is set to begin this spring for a 2016 premiere.

Underground is WGN America’s fifth straight-to-series order to date. The first two, Salem and Manhattan, already have been picked up for Season 2. Also starting production this spring is new drama Outsiders, also from Sony TV and Tribune Studios. Ten Commandments, co-produced by The Weinstein Company, is in pre-production.

Meloni, repped by Gersh and Industry Entertainment, is filming Wet Hot American Summer for Netflix. Hodge is repped by Paradigm. Smollett-Bell is repped by ICM Partners, Storefront and Darrell Miller at Fox Rothschild.

Source: Deadline