EBONY – Najja Parker talks to Jurnee Smollet-Bell, Aldis Hodge about this oddly empowering trek back in history
Get ready to dive deep into your emotions. Jurnee Smollett-Bell and Aldis Hodge take us on a journey through their roles on WGN America’s new show, “The Underground.” This show depicts the struggle and heroic uprising of slaves while trying to obtain freedom from a system of bondage. Hodge plays the role of Noah, a strategic, determined blacksmith who plans to break free from his Southern slave masters and relocate to the North. Along the way he meets Rosalee, a house slave played by Jurnee Smollett-Bell, who has the same determination for freedom and a better life.
Tune in to this interview with our own Najja Parker at the Johnson Publishing Chicago Office as each of them explain their roles more in depth, and the knowledge they gained during the process of filming. “The Underground” premieres tonight on WGN America, check your local listings for show times.
GEPHARDT DAILY — Aldis Hodge is a man of many interests.
Hodge played both the clarinet and the violin as a child, but as an adult his focus is on the violin when he purchased his first at the age of 18.
In addition to acting, Hodge designs watches, writes, paints and attends the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California, although he does take breaks from attending full time due to his acting work.
The actor is best known for his role as Alec Hardison on TNT’s highly rated television series, “Leverage.” Hodge won the role of Hardison on his twenty-first birthday.
Continue reading >
HUFFINGTON POST – For every generation, there is a television show that audaciously attempts to tackle history in a way that the American public hasn’t yet seen. In the 1970’s it was Alex Haley’s Roots, and for this generation, it’s Misha Green and Joe Pokaski’s WGN Drama, Underground.
As the show revels in its Season 2 renewal, the team behind it has launched a campaign to be considered in the upcoming round of Emmy considerations. But with a show that addresses such sensitive and intense subject matter, their efforts carry a special significance.
A few weeks ago, WGN America and Sony Pictures Television hosted a gospel brunch and exclusive pilot screening for Academy members. As audience members filed into the Beverly Hilton, the excitement was palpable.
The brunch kicked off with a power-packed performance from Jason McGee and The Choir, who delivered moving renditions of “Ride On, King Jesus” and “Walk Over God’s Heaven.” With each song, they set the atmosphere for the resilient and triumphant tone of the show. Shortly afterward, we watched the pilot episode, which opened with none other than Kanye West’s “Black Skinhead.”
Continue reading >
TVLine – Noah, Rosalee, Cato et al are going to keep on running, now that WGN America has renewed Underground for a 10-episode Season 2.
To date, the freshman slave escape thriller is averaging a million weekly total viewers and a 0.3 demo rating — numbers that with Live+7 DVR playback swell to 3 million and 1.0. Underground improves on the cabler’s 2015-16 primetime average by 508 percent in total audience and by 1,005 percent (!) in the demo, in Live+7 numbers.
“[Underground is] a series that has resonated with so many passionate fans across the country,” WGN America president Matt Cherniss said in a statement. “We are deeply proud of the work that the talented cast, crew and production team have done to bring this story to life, led by our gifted creators Misha Green and Joe Pokaski and our partners at Sony Pictures Television. It is an honor to have Underground on our air and we look forward to how the story will unfold in what is sure to be a stellar sophomore season.”
Production on Season 2 begins this summer with an eye on a 2017 premiere date. The Season 1 finale airs Wednesday, May 11 at 10/9c, preceded by an all-season marathon at 1 pm.
“…a prestige drama…action-adventure
tale…” – Stuart Miller, Newsweek
WGN America’s Captivating
Arrives on DVD June 14
Includes Behind-the-Scenes Featurettes,
Commentaries and Gag Reel and more!
Culver City, CA (April. 18, 2016) – WGN America’s critically acclaimed new drama UNDERGROUND: SEASON ONE arrives on DVD June 14 from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment (SPHE) and Tribune Studios. The suspenseful UNDERGROUND series – executive produced by Academy Award and GRAMMY Award winner John Legend (2014, Best Original Song, Selma) – is a compelling story of bravery, ingenuity and power. Legend, with executive producers and Get Lifted Film Co. partners Mike Jackson (Southside with You) and Ty Stiklorius (Breaking Through), oversees all music aspects of the gripping 10-episode journey, which follows a group of slaves striving for their freedom from the Macon plantation in 1857 Antebellum, Georgia. As they plan to escape, the immense sacrifices and uncertainty of where to go and who to trust will test those who have the courage to leave and decide who has the endurance to survive.
Continue reading >
John Legend’s WGN series starring Aldis Hodge explores the Underground Railroad
WASHINGTON LIFE – Music superstar John Legend has a lot on his plate these days: The White House just held a special screening for his new WGN “Underground” series; he’s carrying on heated Twitter exchanges with Donald Trump Jr. on racism; and he’s expecting his first child with his wife, model Chrissy Teigen. We focused on “Underground.”
According to producers, the film centers on a group of slaves planning a daring 600-mile escape from a Georgia plantation. Along the way, they are aided by a secret abolitionist couple running a station on the Underground Railroad during their attempt to evade the people charged with bringing them back, dead or alive.
Legend and his production company were in charge of the score and soundtrack for the series and Legend served as executive producer. “I believe the story of people brave enough to risk everything for freedom will be inspirational,” he says.
We spoke to cast members prior to the White House screening, a smart, introspective, engaged group who gave us their take on the relevance of the series in today’s world as well as the significance of this underreported sequence of events during the revolt against slavery.
We focused on Aldis Hodge … think “Straight Outta Compton”… who brilliantly portrays Noah as he leads his fellow slaves in a daring escape on the Underground Railroad.
Continue reading >