The gang behind WGN America‘s first original scripted series Salem took some flak from critics during the TCA press tour last week for taking liberties with the Salem Witch Trials — an ugly period of social injustice in this country. In creators Brannon Braga and Adam Simon’s …
WGN America‘s first original scripted drama, Salem, is set in the world of 17th century Massachusetts. Only, in the TV version of the actual events, the witches are real and it’s “an even bolder new version of witches,” WGN promises. Yes, Tribune-owned WGN is turning one of this country’s most shameful periods of injustice, mass hysteria and persecution into a sexy, dark exploration of Satanism.
“Our take on the trials is that the witches were real, and running the trials,” creator Brannon Braga, who’s EP-ing the series, told TV critics at Winter TV Press Tour 2013. Some of whom did not take it well, and suggested WGN was doing an offensive re-writing of history. The witches, Braga explained, are are in league with their persecutors “and there’s a reason they’re doing it.”
Fellow EP Adam Simon insisted that in the 17th century everyone believed in witches. And the two men insisted the series in no way belittles the “terrible social issues” of that episode in our country’s , “In fact, quite the contrary,” they said. It’s a retelling, an alternate history – but, Not Exploitation.
Year-End: Will Broadcast Pilot Season Paradigm Finally Be Broken & Other TV Industry Questions For 2014
Broadcast executives for years have been preaching about switching to a year-round development cycle or adopting the cable model of producing fewer pilots with higher pilot-to-series ratio. They have been ordering occasional off-cycle pilots and have jumped on scripts with pilot orders in November and December but are yet to break the traditional pilot season paradigm. This coming year, they may be forced to. In 2013, we had what was probably the first true continuous pilot season, with existing and new cable and digital players constantly handing out pilot and straight-to-series orders. Add to that the new push into limited/event series arena, and there were at least a dozen projects casting at any time of the year. That has kept casting directors and TV talent agents busy and has further depleted the acting talent pool. Every year, there are a handful of pilots that are left unproduced because of difficulty casting. There is quiet panic in the air these days that this coming pilot season we will see a lot more of that. It is the logical next step after the proliferation of scripted programming across different platforms caused a shortage of writers, especially on the drama side, pushing the number of drama buys this development season way down.
A cancelled series used to mean a cast available for the following broadcast pilot season. When ABC in January 2010 announced that Ugly Betty was going to end that spring, it created a feeding frenzy for the stars of the show that pilot season. Now actors from cancelled shows are snatched long before the following broadcast pilot season rolls along. For instance, the CW said in May that drama Nikita was calling it a day with a final six-episode installment. Its male leads, Shane West and Aaron Stanford are already spoken for with big roles in cable projects — West is the male lead on WGN America’s first scripted series, drama Salem, Stanford is the lead of Syfy’s pilot 12 Monkeys, based on Terry Gilliam’s movie, with his Nikita co-star Noah Bean also cast in the pilot.
WGN America has released the first teaser for its first original scripted series, drama Salem, which will premiere next year. Set in the volatile world of 17th century Massachusetts, it explores what really fueled the town’s infamous witch trials and centers on Mary Sibley (Janet Montgomery), the beautiful, …
Beau Garrett Joins Bravo Pilot ‘Girlfriend’s Guide’, Ashley Madekwe In WGN’s ‘Salem’, Jennie Garth Closed For ‘Mystery Girls’
Beau Garrett (Tron) is set to co-star in Girlfriends’ Guide To Divorce, Bravo’s scripted pilot from Marti Noxon and UCP. Based on the book series by Vicki Iovine, it follows Abby (Lisa Edelsein), the famous author of a best-selling self-help book series who is hiding the fact that she’s separated from her husband as she starts to navigate her life as a single woman in her early 40s in Los Angeles. She finds herself seeking advice from her divorced friends, including Phoebe (Garrett), instead of her married ones. Phoebe is a former model and recent divorcee that is still close to her ex. Garrett is with Paradigm, KLWGN Entertainment and Jason Hendler.
Tribune’s WGN America is officially an original scripted programming player. Two months after Matt Cherniss was named president and general manager of WGN and indicated he would be looking for a scripted series to define WGN, the superstation has greenlighted its first original scripted series, drama Salem. The project, from Star Trek and 24 alum Brannon Braga, Adam Simon (The Haunting In Connecticut) and Fox21, has received a straight-to-series 13-episode order and is slated to begin production in the fall for a 2014 premiere.
Salem, originally developed for FX, is set in the volatile world of 17th century Massachusetts and explores what really fueled the town’s infamous witch trials and dares to uncover the dark, supernatural truth hiding behind the veil of this infamous period in American history. The show, which centers on an epic romance, is said to deliver a new vision of witches who are real though they are not who or what they seem. Braga and Simon created the series and will serve as executive producers alongside Prospect Park’s Josh Barry and Jeff Kwatinetz. “Brannon and Adam have an amazing vision for the world and characters that comprise Salem, Massachusetts during the witch trials and we believe that a great adventure full of supernatural, romance, and action awaits the viewer,” Cherniss said.