×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

John Legend to Produce WGN America’s ‘Underground’

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.

More TV

  • Stephen Moore

    Stephen Moore, 'Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy' Android, 'Doctor Who' Actor, Dies at 81

    Stephen Moore, best known for his roles as the paranoid android Marvin in “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” radio series and the Silurian Eldane in “Doctor Who,” has died. He was 81. “The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy” producer Dirk Maggs confirmed Moore’s death Sturday on Twitter, writing, “Our dear friend Stephen Moore has [...]

  • Baghdad-Central-Image

    Fremantle, Hulu Bringing 'Baghdad Central' to United States

    Fremantle is partnering with Hulu to bring the UK drama “Baghdad Central” to the United States, Fremantle announced Monday. The latest in Hulu’s growing slate of international content, “Baghdad Central” will launch on Channel 4 in the United Kingdom and stream on Hulu in 2020. Based on the novel by Elliott Colla, the six-part drama [...]

  • Endemol Shine, China’s Hunan TV Duet

    Endemol Shine, China’s Hunan TV Duet on ‘Sing or Spin’ (EXCLUSIVE)

    Global production and distribution giant Endemol Shine is to duet with leading Chinese producer and broadcaster Hunan TV on primetime entertainment format “Sing or Spin,” which has an innovative spin: a revolving stage that lets singers know how well they are scoring. The show has been co-developed by Endemol Shine China and Hunan TV as [...]

  • 'Succession': Nicholas Braun, Matthew Macfadyen on

    'Succession' Stars Nicholas Braun, Matthew Macfadyen Break Down How To Make a Tomelette

    You can’t make a Tomelette without breaking some Greggs, and you can’t get through an episode of ‘Succession’ without a few rounds of riffing, at least according to Nicholas Braun (who plays Greg Hirsch) and Matthew Macfadyen (who portrays Tom Wamsgans). “We basically improv in probably every scene to some capacity,” says Braun. Though the [...]

  • Manchester City Football Club Animated Series

    Manchester City Soccer Team Animated Series in the Works (EXCLUSIVE)

    “Sky Blue Academy,” an animated series set inside the training academy of reigning English Premier League champions Manchester City, is in the works, Variety has learned. The Pep Guardiola-managed team has enjoyed numerous successes in recent years and broken into world soccer’s elite, becoming a global brand in the process. The show will follow a [...]

  • LIVING WITH YOURSELF

    TV Review: 'Living with Yourself'

    Paul Rudd is such a naturally ebullient actor that it can be startling to see him ground down. A gifted physical performer who, at 50, looks so youthful that his appearance tends to precede all other attributes when he’s discussed, Rudd also still has the verve and energy of a rising star — a quality [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content