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TCA: WGN America’s ‘Manhattan’ To Walk Fine Line Between Fact And Fiction, Creator Says

By | Wednesday July 9, 2014 @ 2:35pm PDT

TCA: WGN America’s ‘Manhattan’ To Walk Fine Line Between Fact And Fiction, Creator SaysWGN America’s 13-episode series Manhattan, about the race to build the world’s first atomic bomb in Los Alamos, NM, is not an allegory for current politics, creator Sam Shaw insisted today at TCA Summer TV Press Tour 2014, despite suggestions otherwise by some member of the cast, and by journalists.

“It’s not The Crucible,” Shaw said, drawing blank looks from some in the Golden Globes ballroom of the Beverly Hilton as he referenced Arthur Miller’s play — in which the Salem witch trials stands in for the McCarthy era’s Committee on Un-American Activities. Maybe sensing the hesitation, Shaw acknowledged that, even when not intended, storytelling about the past “has a lot to say about this moment in time,” he said, putting the bloggers/tweeters in the hall back on more familiar ground. Read More »

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WGN America Sets Multi-Channel Premiere For ‘Manhattan’

By | Monday June 30, 2014 @ 2:29pm PDT

WGN America Sets Multi-Channel Premiere For ‘Manhattan’WGN America is pulling out all the stops for the premiere of its original scripted drama series Manhattan. When it debuts on Sunday, July 27, the premiere episode will be seen not only on WGN America, but also on Tribune stations in 33 markets nationwide, including WPIX/New York, KTLA/Los Angeles, WGN/Chicago, WPHL/Philadelphia and WDCW/Washington, DC, WGN America said today. From writer Sam Shaw (Masters Of Sex) and director Thomas Schlamme, Skydance TV, Tribune Studios and Lionsgate TV, the 13-episode series is set against the backdrop of the clandestine mission to build the world’s first atomic bomb in Los Alamos, NM and follows the brilliant but flawed scientists and their families. John Benjamin Hickey, Daniel Stern, Olivia Williams, Ashley Zukerman and Rachel Brosnahan star.

In addition, on July 4, WGN America will air a half-hour original special looking at the fortified secret suburban society of 1940s Los Alamos. Premiere of The Manhattan Project: Beyond The Bomb will be followed by airings on Tribune stations nationwide. After the July 27 series premiere, Manhattan will continue its 13-episode run on WGN America, Sundays at its regular time, 10 PM ET / 9 PM CT. Manhattan is executive produced by Sam Shaw, Thomas Schlamme, David Ellison, Dana Goldberg, Marcy Ross and Dustin Thomason.

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Tribune CEO Says He’s “Not Pleased” With CW’s Performance

By | Thursday May 15, 2014 @ 3:07pm PDT

Peter LiguoriTribune CEO Peter Liguori is the network’s biggest affiliate owner, so the CW owners CBS and Warner Bros have to take him seriously. And something will have to give based on the tough comments he made today at the MoffettNathanson Media & Communications Summit — the same day CW execs told advertisers, in their upfront presentation, that the network just attracted its largest audience in three years. Liguori says he’s “not pleased with where the CW is” adding that it “should not program to [young] people who don’t watch television.” CBS’ Les Moonves and Warner Bros’ Kevin Tsujihara know that CW “can’t move forward without us.” What specifically does the Tribune chief want? The-CW-logo__140313224549-575x239Liguori says it may be time for him to “get a seat at the table” for programming. “Maybe I can put some of my content on there.” He also raised the possibility of playing a larger role in its management. “All of those things have to be in play.” Part of the problem, as Liguori sees it, is that CW is a sideshow for its owners. “If CW becomes a competitor, isn’t [Moonves] possibly threatened [at CBS]? Yes. We have to break that log jam.”

Related: CW’s New Series Trailers: ‘The Flash’, ‘Jane The Virgin’

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WGN America Sets Premiere Date For ‘Manhattan’

By | Thursday May 15, 2014 @ 9:31am PDT

WGN America‘sManhattan Cast Image_Final original scripted series Manhattan will premiere on Sunday July 27 at 10 PM ET. From writer Sam Shaw and director Thomas Schlamme, Skydance TV, Tribune Studios and Lionsgate TV, the 13-episode series is set against the backdrop of the clandestine mission to build the world’s first atomic bomb in Los Alamos, NM and follows the brilliant but flawed scientists and their families. John Benjamin Hickey, Olivia Williams, Daniel Stern, Ashley Zukerman, Katia Herbers, Christopher Denham, Harry Lloyd, Michael Chernus, Rachel Brosnahan and Eddie Shin star. Manhattan is executive produced by Shaw, Schlamme, David Ellison, Dana Goldberg, Marcy Ross and Dustin Thomason.

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WGN America’s ‘Salem’ Renewed For Second Season

By | Monday May 5, 2014 @ 1:45pm PDT
Nellie Andreeva

WGA's SalemFollowing a strong launch, WGN America‘s first original scripted drama has been picked up for a second season three episodes into its freshman run. The 13-episode second season of Salem, from creators Brannon Braga and Adam Simon and Fox 21, will begin production later this year for a 2015 debut. Despite WGN only covering 62% of the country with a single feed, Salem‘s April 20 premiere averaged an impressive 3.4 million total viewers and 1.5 million adults 18-49 in Live+7. Through its first two telecasts in Live+3 viewing, Salem has logged nearly 1.7 million total viewers and 806,000 among Adults 18-49, a 776% increase over the network’s Adults 18-49 season-to-date average on Sundays at 10 PM ET. “At WGN America, we are committed to delivering compelling, brand-defining programming rich with fascinating characters, and Salem has done just that,” said WGN America President Matt Cherniss. Starring Janet Montgomery, Shane West, Seth Gabel, Xander Berkeley, Ashley Madekwe, Tamzin Merchant, Elise Eberle and Iddo Goldberg, Salem re-imagines the infamous 17th century witch trials in the Massachusetts town. Braga and Simon executive produce with Jeff Kwatinetz and Josh Barry of Prospect Park and David Von Ancken.

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WGN’s ‘Salem’ Debut Surges In Live+3 Results

By | Friday April 25, 2014 @ 12:18pm PDT

imagesWGN America‘s first foray into original scripted series has found even more solid footing now that Live+3 viewing stats are out. The 17th century-set Salem has scared up even more impressive numbers from its April 20 premiere with a 41% jump from its already strong Live+SD results to 2.145 million total viewers. The 10 PM witchy series from Fox21 and creators Brannon Braga and Adam Simon saw an even bigger leap among adults 18-49 with a 56% rise, from 647,000 in the key demo to 1.008 million. What makes that all the more remarkable and a testament to the power of DVRing nowadays is that with a limited reach of only 62.3% of the U.S. (72 million homes), WGN is a single-feed cable network. That means the 10 PM Salem premiere last Sunday aired at 7 PM on the West Coast. Read More »

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WGN’s ‘Salem’ Off To Strong Ratings Start

By | Monday April 21, 2014 @ 11:37am PDT
Nellie Andreeva

WGA's SalemWGN America‘s first original scripted series Salem debuted to a solid 1.5 million total viewers and 647,000 Adults 18-49 at 10 PM ET last night. That represents a +635% increase over the network’s Adults 18-49 season-to-date average in the slot and WGN America’s highest-rated telecast in more than seven years, since 2007. We should note that WGN America covers only 62.3% of the U.S. (72 million homes) and is a rare single-feed cable network, meaning that the Salem 10 PM premiere aired at 7 PM on the West Coast. For comparison, the 2007 premiere of AMC’s first original scripted series, Mad Men, drew 510,000 Adults 18-49 and 1.6 total viewers in 92 million homes. For the night, the Salem debut drew a total of 2.3 total viewers and 886,000 adults 18-49 over four airings, including encores at 11 PM ET/8 PM PT, 1 AM ET/10 PM PT and 2 AM ET/11 PM PT.  “These numbers far exceeded our expectations,” said Matt Cherniss, WGN America President and General Manager. Originally developed at FX, Salem, about the Salem witch trials, is the first series as part of WGN’s push to become a top tier general entertainment network. It will be followed by period drama Manhattan, premiering in July 2014, and event series Ten Commandments, debuting in 2015.

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Hot TV Teaser: WGN America’s ‘Manhattan’

By | Friday April 18, 2014 @ 12:35pm PDT

John Benjamin Hickey, Daniel Stern, Olivia Williams, Ashley Zukerman and Rachel Brosnahan star in WGN America‘s 13-episode scripted series Manhattan, slated to premiere in July. Set during the clandestine mission to build the world’s first atomic bomb in Los Alamos, NM, Manhattan follows the brilliant but flawed scientists and their families. Here’s a sneak-peek at the teaser trailer that will air during Salem‘s season premiere on Sunday. Manhattan is from writer Sam Shaw and director Thomas Schlamme, Skydance TV, Tribune Studios and Lionsgate TV.

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Stephen Lang Joins WGN America’s ‘Salem’

By | Thursday April 17, 2014 @ 6:04pm PDT

Stephen Lang (Avatar)stephenlang2 has been tapped for a recurring role on WGN America‘s drama series Salem. 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, ruthless but vulnerable wife of the ancient, ailing but very wealthy George Sibley (Michael Mulheren), one of Salem’s town Selectmen. Innovative Artists-repped Lang will play Increase Mather, an old-line, hard-core Puritan who led the way across the ocean to the Promised Land in the late 1600s. Intellectually, spiritually and politically, he’s the most influential man in the country — and the most feared. Read More »

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Bret Harrison, Aaron McCusker Join ABC’s ‘The Astronaut Wives Club’; Daniel London In WGN’s ‘Manhattan’

By | Thursday April 17, 2014 @ 12:14pm PDT

UPDATED: Bret Harrison aaron2bretharrison1(Orange County) and Aaron McCusker (Shameless, Dexter) have been cast as series regulars in ABC’s 10-episode drama series The Astronaut Wives Club, from Fake Empire, Groundswell Productions and ABC Studios, eyed for 2015. Written by Stephanie Savage based on Lily Koppel’s book and directed by Nick Cassavetes, it tells the real story of the women who stood beside some of the biggest heroes in American history during the height of the space race. Harrison will play Gordon “Gordo” Cooper, one of the original astronauts. His wandering ways pushed his wife, Trudy, to the brink of divorce, but he’s convinced her to come back so he can have his shot at space. McCusker, repped by UK’s Curtis Brown and Kritzer Levine Wilkins Griffin Nilon Entertainment, will play Wally Schirra, another one of the original astronauts who’s also a prankster.
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WGN America In Script-To-Series Deal With Gaumont & Justin Lin For Dystopian Drama

By | Wednesday April 9, 2014 @ 12:12pm PDT
Nellie Andreeva

JustinLinGaumont International Television (Hannibal) has teamed with filmmaker Justin Lin and his Perfect Storm Entertainment for Radiant Doors, a drama that has been set up at WGN America. The project, from writer Jeremy Doner (The Killing), has received a script against a series commitment, meaning that it would go straight to series if the pilot script gets WGN’s approval. An adaptation of the short story by wgnnewlogoMichael Swanwick, Radiant Doors is described as a gripping drama series exploring how our society gaumontdeals with the sudden arrival of a flood of refugees from a dystopian future. Lin is set to direct and executive produce with Doner and Perfect Storm’s Danielle Woodrow and Troy Craig Poon, with Ryan Andolina serving as co-producer. “We have been wanting to work with both Justin and Jeremy and are so happy to have them come together on this project,” said GIT CEO Katie O’Connell. “The award-winning short story really captivated all of us with its transcendent themes.” Both WGN America and GIT are in the straight-to-series business. WGN’s first original drama, Salem, premieres April 20. Lin and Doner are repped by CAA.

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Omar J. Dorsey Joins Showtime’s ‘Ray Donovan’; Carole Weyers In WGN’s ‘Manhattan’

By | Thursday April 3, 2014 @ 12:45pm PDT

Omar J. Dorsey (Django Unchained)omardorsey2 has landed a recurring role on Showtime‘s Ray Donovan. Dorsey will play Cookie Brown, a powerful music business entrepreneur recently released from prison. Ray Donovan stars Liev Schreiber as LA’s best professional fixer, the man called in to make the city’s celebrities, superstar athletes, and business moguls’ most complicated and combustible situations go away. Dorsey’s other TV credits include Fox’s Rake and HBO’s Eastbound & Down.

Caroleweyers1Newcomer Carole Weyers is set for a multi-episode arc on WGN America‘s 13-episode scripted series Manhattan, from writer Sam Shaw and director Thomas Schlamme, Skydance TV, Tribune Studios and Lionsgate TV. Set during the clandestine mission to build the world’s first atomic bomb in Los Alamos, NM, Manhattan follows the brilliant but flawed scientists and their families. Weyers, repped by D2 Management and Element Talent Agency, will play Elodie, a French switchboard operator at Los Alamos.

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Alison Sudol Cast In ‘DIG’; Eric Nenninger Joins ‘Mission Control’; Michael Chernus In ‘Manhattan’

By | Tuesday March 25, 2014 @ 9:43am PDT

Singer-songwriter-actress Alison Sudolalisonsudel2 (A Fine Frenzy) has been tapped as a series regular on USA Network’s six episode event series DIG, an action adventure drama from co-creators and executive producers Tim Kring and Gideon Raff. It centers on Peter (Jason Isaacs), an FBI agent stationed in Jerusalem who, while investigating a murder of a woman archaeologist, uncovers a conspiracy 2000 years in the making that threatens to change the course of history. Sudol, repped by Resolution and Dave Fleming at Mosaic, will play Emma Wilson, an American intern working on a dig site in Jerusalem who befriends Peter (Isaacs). Sudel recurred on Transparent and will be seen in upcoming feature Other People’s Children. Read More »

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First Look At Key Art For WGN America’s Debut Scripted Series ‘Salem’

By | Tuesday March 11, 2014 @ 6:34pm PDT

EXCLUSIVE: We’ve already seen the trailer for WGN America‘s first scripted series, now here’s a first look at some of the key art. Set in 17th century Massachusetts, Salem revolves around the infamous witch trials — only this time the witches are real. The drama from Brannon Braga and Adam Simon stars Janet Montgomery, Shane West, Seth Gabel, Ashley Madekwe and Xander Berkeley. It bows April 20.

Salem_TREE(1)

Related: TCA: WGN’S ‘Salem’ Creators Defend Witch Trials Re-Write

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WGN America Developing Eliot Ness Drama Series With Dennis Lehane & Michael Dinner

By | Friday February 14, 2014 @ 12:56pm PST
Nellie Andreeva

eliotnessEXCLUSIVE: Famous prohibition agent Eliot Ness wasn’t even 30 years old when hit the pinnacle in his career by taking down Al Capone with his law enforcement team dubbed The Untouchables. The following two decades of his life are the subject of Ness, a drama series in development at WGN America from The Blacklist duo of Sony Pictures TV and Davis Entertainment. The project is based on Douglas Perry’s biography Eliot Ness: The wgnnewlogoRise And Fall Of An American Hero, which is being published next week. The adaptation will be written by renowned crime novelist Dennis Lehane (Shutter Island; Mystic River; Gone, Baby, Gone), with Sony TV-based Michael Dinner (Justified) set to direct. The two are executive producing with Davis Entertainment’s John Davis and John Fox.

Ness’ 1929-31 heroics going after crime boss Capone in Chicago were chronicled in the 1959 ABC drama series The Untouchables starring Robert Stack as Ness and Brian De Palma’s Oscar-winning movie of the same name toplined by Kevin Costner. Ness will follow is the real (and untold) story of Ness lehanepost-Untouchables when he became the top cop in Cleveland, the most dangerous city in America during the 1930s. He spent the next decade fighting the mob, his own corrupt police department, and a serial killer on the streets. All while battling his alcoholism, serial philandering and the constant need for acclaim. (Ness was broke and an alcoholic when he died from a massive heart attack at 55 in 1957). Coincidentally, Sony TV is developing another project about Ness’ years in Cleveland on the longform side. Nemesis, an eight-hour miniseries for NBC, zeroes in on Ness’ hunt for the so-called Torso Killer, billed as America’s first serial killer. The mini is based on different source material, the book Nemesis: The Final Case Of Eliot Ness by William Bernhardt, with Craig Zadan and Neil Meron executive producing. Read More »

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Katja Herbers In WGN Series ‘Manhattan’; Griffin Gluck Joins Fox’s ‘Red Band Society’

By | Tuesday February 11, 2014 @ 4:20pm PST

Katja Herbers (De storm) has been cast in WGNherbers2 America‘s 13-episode scripted series Manhattan, from writer Sam Shaw and director Thomas Schlamme, Skydance TV, Tribune Studios and Lionsgate TV. Set during the clandestine mission to build the world’s first atomic bomb in Los Alamos, NM, Manhattan follows the brilliant but flawed scientists and their families. Herbers, repped by All Star Agency and Lasher Group, will play Helen Price, a member of Frank Winter’s team and one of the few female physicists assigned to the Manhattan Project.She joins previously cast John Benjamin Hickey, Daniel Stern, Rachel Brosnahan, Ashley Zukerman, and Harry Lloyd. Herbers is. Read More »

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ION & WGN America Acquire Off-Network Rights To CBS Drama ‘Blue Bloods’

By | Monday February 3, 2014 @ 8:45am PST
Nellie Andreeva

blue bloodsAnother CBS procedural drama is headed to off-network syndication. Following the recent deals for CBS’ Person Of Interest, distributed by Warner Bros., and Elementary, distributed by CBS Domestic Television, the network’s Blue Bloods, also from CBS TV Distribution, is landing off-network pacts. I’ve learned that CBS TV Distribution is finalizing a three-prong multi-platform syndication sale for the cop/family drama starring Tom Selleck. It includes a pact with ION for the broadcast syndication rights, a deal with WGN America, which has purchased basic cable rights, and a pending deal with an SVOD partner. I hear ION is getting exclusive rights to air the series in primetime and will share with WGN outside of primetime. Blue Bloods is expected to launch in syndication later this year, after its current fourth season wraps on CBS. On ION, Blue Bloods will join a primetime slate built on crime dramas, including CBS’ Criminal Minds, which has been particularly successful, two series that aired on CBS, Cold Case and Flashpoint, along with Law & Order: CI. WGN has been very aggressive in its first year under new management, snapping up off-network dramas in addition to building an original series slate. WGN acquired both POI and Elementary, and will now share Blue Bloods. In its fourth season, Blue Bloods is averaging 14 million viewers (most current), up +7% from last year. This past Friday, the show hit a season high in Read More »

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WGN America Nabs Off-Network Rights To CBS Drama ‘Elementary’

By | Thursday January 30, 2014 @ 10:00am PST
Nellie Andreeva

Elementary-London-season-2Tribune’s WGN America continues to aggressively build its programming slate with a second high-profile off-network acquisition. On the heels of its deal with Warner Bros for Person Of Interest, WGN has picked up exclusive off-network cable rights to another CBS procedural drama, sophomore Elementary, from CBS TV Distribution. The deal seals Elementary‘s renewal for next season and probably beyond.  No premiere date has been announced, but Elementary is eyed as a companion to POI, which debuts on WGNA in fall 2015, with Elementary expected to join the cable network’s lineup around that time. No one is commenting but I hear the license fee for Elementary is in line with or a tad higher than that $1.1 million-$1.5 million per episode that POI wgnnewlogocommanded. (Both deals include a carved out broadcast window.) “Elementary is a first-rate drama and terrific addition to the lineup of compelling content that is redefining WGN America,” said WGNA president Matt Cherniss. “It’s a perfect complement to our recent off-network acquisition, Person of Interest.Read More »

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TCA: WGN’S ‘Salem’ Creators Defend Witch Trials Re-Write

By | Sunday January 12, 2014 @ 12:59pm PST

WGA's SalemWGN 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. Read More »

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