Musician John Legend, along with his Get Lifted partners Mike Jackson and Ty Stiklorius, has signed on to exec produce WGN America’s upcoming original thriller “Underground,” network president and general manager Matt Cherniss announced Wednesday during the Television Critics Association press tour.
Legend’s production banner Get Lifted will also oversee the score, soundtrack and all other music aspects of the series.
“Underground” will follow plantation slaves as they band together to fight for the lives of their families, their future and their freedom. The series is currently in production in Baton Rouge, La., and is set to premiere in 2016.
“We are excited to join forces with WGN America and Sony and the talented team of writers and producers on this powerful project that we believe will inspire us all,” said Legend in a statement. “This series has a unique opportunity to speak to the passion and courage of those who risked it all as they raced to freedom. We are honored to bring our creative vision to this thrilling project.”
“‘Underground’ depicts a raw and revolutionary chapter in the American story. We wanted an artist who could help us find the light through the darkness, and John Legend was a perfect fit,” said Misha Green and Joe Pokaski, creators and executive producers of “Underground.” “We are beyond excited to be working with John, Mike and Ty at Get Lifted. They stand without peer at the intersection of music and television — we couldn’t think of better producing partners.”
“We are thrilled that John Legend will lend his impressive talents to ‘Underground,’ a story that chronicles the compelling journey of brave individuals whose fight for freedom still inspires us today,” added Cherniss. “We look forward to John, Mike and Ty’s creative imprint on this series that we believe will be both provocative and captivating.”
Legend, with his songwriting partner Common, recently won an Oscar for best original song for “Glory” from “Selma.”
Aldis Hodge will star as Noah, a restless slave who organizes a small team of fellow slaves on a plantation to plan an escape. Jurnee Smollett-Bell, Christopher Meloni, Alano Miller, Jessica de Gouw, Adina Porter, Mykelti Williamson, Amirah Vann, Johnny Ray Gill, Chris Chalk, Reed Diamond and Jussie Smollett also star.
“Underground” is created and written by “Sons of Anarchy” and “Heroes” alum Green and “Heroes” and “Daredevil” alum Pokaski. They also serve as executive producers along with Akiva Goldsman of Weed Road Pictures; Tory Tunnel; and Joby Harold of Safehouse Pictures, in addition to Legend, Jackson and Stiklorious. Anthony Hemingway directs and exec produces for the first four episodes.