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Freeform Picks Up Witch Drama ‘Motherland’ to Series

Freeform has put out a 10-episode series order for “Motherland: Fort Salem,” a show about witches in the American military, Variety has learned.

The one-hour drama, which has Will Ferrell, Adam McKay and Kevin Messick on board as EPs, was created by Eliot Laurence and is set in an alternate, present-day America where witches ended their persecution 300 years ago by cutting a deal with the U.S. government to fight for their country.

“Motherland: Fort Salem” follows three young women from basic training in combat magic, to the terror of early deployment. In this world, the traditional roles of gender and power are flipped with women on the front lines, while the looming terrorist threat feel strikingly familiar to our world. 

“We’re so excited to be able to tell this story rich with female empowerment, complex storytelling and an incredibly creative canon,” said Freeform president Tom Ascheim. “While set in an alternative universe, ‘Motherland: Fort Salem’ will continue the authentic and issues-driven storylines that our network is known for, and what our audience has come to expect.”

The show stars Taylor Hickson (“Deadly Class”) as Raelle, a reluctant recruit with major authority issues whose mother recently died in the line of duty, and Jessica Sutton (“The Kissing Booth”) as Tally, a kind, strong-willed and curious witch. Amalia Holm (“Playground”) rounds out the young witch recruits, playing Scylla, a playful yet dark and mischievous recruit. Demetria McKinney (“The Saints and Sinners”) will play Anacostia, a tough but wryly humorous drill sergeant. Additional cast will be announced at a later date.

“Will, Adam and I couldn’t be more excited about the opportunity to take Eliot’s vision to series. ‘Motherland: Fort Salem’ is bold and original storytelling and Freeform has been incredibly supportive in helping us realize Eliot’s alternate version of America. We can’t wait to get started on the season,” said Messick.

“Motherland: Fort Salem” is written and created by Eliot Laurence and produced by Freeform Studios and Gary Sanchez Productions. Ferrell, McKay and Kevin Messick serve as EPs for Sanchez. Eliot Laurence, Maria Maggenti and Steven Adelson will also executive produce the series. The pilot was directed by Steven A. Adelson.

“So excited Freeform has given a platform to one of the most original writers working today; Eliot Laurence,” McKay added. “Sanchez has worked with Eliot for years and he has astounded us yet again with the imaginative and layered world of ‘Motherland: Fort Salem.’”

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