LOS ANGELES, March 7, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- Executive produced by John Legend and created by Misha Green and Joe Pokaski, WGN America's highly anticipated original drama "Underground," premiering WEDNESDAY, March 9 (10:00 p.m. ET/PT) follows a courageous blacksmith Noah (Aldis Hodge) as he covertly organizes a small group of his fellow slaves and pieces together a daring plan of escape across hundreds of miles to freedom. The odds of success are razor-thin for those who make it off the plantation, while the risks, dangers and obstacles multiply each step of the way.
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In the premiere episode, "The Macon 7," written by series creators and executive producers Misha Green and Joe Pokaski and directed by Anthony Hemingway, Noah is determined to escape from the Macon Plantation. After his first attempt to run is disguised as getting lost, despite traveling a route he had been on many times before, he begins to collect crucial information as well as brings together a team of fellow slaves to join him on his next attempt. Meanwhile, Tom (Reed Diamond) and Suzanna Macon (Andrea Frankle), owners of the Macon Plantation, plan a lavish party to celebrate their daughter Mary's (Mary Duhon) birthday and to launch Tom's senatorial campaign. John Hawkes (Marc Blucas), a frustrated abolitionist lawyer, is approached about joining the group coordinating the Underground Railroad activities, but he and his wife Elizabeth (Jessica de Gouw) are hesitant to become involved. A tragic event on the plantation and a desire to see life beyond the main house walls, motivates house servant Rosalee (Jurnee Smollett-Bell) to consider joining the other runners. During his travels just beyond the Macon Plantation, August Pullman (Christopher Meloni) hides a runaway slave from patrolling bounty hunters, but his intentions are unclear; and Noah finds himself at odds with Cato (Alano Miller), the plantation's cunning slave driver.
In celebration of the launch of 'Underground' on WEDNESDAY, March 9 (10:00 p.m. ET/PT), fans are invited to "tweet up" with the cast and creative team as they live tweet the premiere episode, @UndergroundWGN, #BreakFree.
Leading up to the premiere, WGN America recently hosted the star-studded world premiere of "Underground" in downtown Los Angeles, which opened with a moving rendition of songs from Jason McGee and The Choir, followed by a screening of the series hailed with a rousing standing ovation, and soirée with the cast, creative team and celebrity attendees.
"Underground" was also honored at the White House with a screening and panel discussion including the cast and creative team as part of the White House Office of Public Engagement's Black History Month event. The original series has also been lauded at screenings and events across the country, including the National Civil Rights Museum (Memphis, TN), DuSable Museum of African American History (Chicago, IL), 2016 Sundance Film Festival (Park City, UT), New York Comic-Con, Essence Festival (New Orleans, LA), NAACP (Los Angeles, CA), National Association of Black Journalists Conference (Minneapolis. MN), and the upcoming Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture at the New York Public Library. Additionally, the cast and creative team have presented the series at an array of colleges and universities, including Howard University (Washington, DC), Clark Atlanta University (Atlanta, GA), Florida A&M (Tallahassee, FL), Tuskegee University (Tuskegee, AL) and Jackson State University (Jackson, MS), among others.
Additionally, "Underground" star Jurnee Smollett-Bell headlined Macy's Black History Month Rising Stars tour, which featured the series and took her to eight cities across the U.S., including New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, Washington, DC, Atlanta, Miami and San Francisco. At the tour's grand finale in Los Angeles, she and co-stars Aldis Hodge and Alano Miller surprised the entire audience with tickets to the show's world premiere event.
In addition to Legend's role as executive producer, the Grammy® and Academy Award-winner oversees "Underground's" bold musical score, one that connects the past to the present and embodies the raw energy of the series. Legend also collaborated with "Underground" series creators Green and Pokaski, and composers Laura Karpman, a multi-Emmy Award winner and Raphael Saadiq, a celebrated singer/songwriter and producer. The main title theme "Heaven's Door" is produced by John Legend, written by Angelique Cinelu and Curtis Richardson and performed by Alice Smith.
Among the artists featured in the contemporary music for the series are John Legend, Kanye West, The Weeknd, Raphael Saadiq and Grace Potter & The Nocturnals.
"Underground" features an acclaimed cast, including Jurnee Smollett-Bell ("True Blood," "Friday Night Lights"), Aldis Hodge ("Straight Outta Compton"), Christopher Meloni ("Sin City: A Dame to Kill For"), Alano Miller ("Jane The Virgin"), Jessica de Gouw ("Arrow," "Dracula"), Marc Blucas ("Buffy the Vampire Slayer"), Adina Porter ("The 100"), Mykelti Williamson ("Justified," "24"), Amirah Vann ("Girls," "And So It Goes"), Johnny Ray Gill ("Rectify"), Chris Chalk ("Gotham"), Reed Diamond ("Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D."), Theodus Crane ("The Walking Dead"), James Lafferty ("One Tree Hill"), Renwick Scott ("Treme") and Jussie Smollett ("Empire").
Produced by Sony Pictures Television and Tribune Studios, "Underground" is created by Misha Green ("Sons Of Anarchy," "Heroes") and Joe Pokaski ("Daredevil," "Heroes,") who executive produce alongside Academy Award-winner Akiva Goldsman ("A Beautiful Mind," "I Am Legend") of Weed Road Pictures; and Joby Harold ("King Arthur," "Edge of Tomorrow") and Tory Tunnell ("King Arthur," "Holy Rollers") of Safehouse Pictures. Visionary artist and producer John Legend, an Academy Award, Golden Globe® and multi-Grammy Award winner, and his Get Lifted partners Mike Jackson and Ty Stiklorius executive produce. Additionally, Get Lifted oversees all elements of the show's music. Anthony Hemingway ("The Wire," "Treme") directs and serves as executive producer for the first four episodes.
The first episode of "Underground" will be available on Crackle, YouTube and Facebook following the series' debut.
WGN America and Tribune Studios
WGN America, the flagship entertainment network of Tribune Media Company (NYSE: TRCO) is nationally distributed in nearly 80 million homes via cable, satellite and telco, with high-quality entertainment programming including the breakout hit series "Outsiders" and "Salem," and the upcoming scripted drama "Underground." The network also brings its audience a strong slate of popular first-run syndicated series and blockbuster movies. Through Tribune Studios, the creative development arm of Tribune Media, original content is produced for WGN America and Tribune local stations nationwide. Follow the network on Twitter @wgnamerica. For additional information, please visit www.wgnamerica.com.
About Sony Pictures Television
Sony Pictures Television is one of the television industry's leading content providers, producing and distributing programming worldwide in every genre and for every platform. In addition to managing one of the industry's largest libraries of award-winning feature films, television shows and formats, SPT is home to a thriving US production business and operates 18 wholly-owned or joint venture production companies in 11 countries around the world. SPT's worldwide networks portfolio includes 150 channel feeds, which are available in 178 countries reaching more than 1.3 billion cumulative households worldwide. Sony Pictures Television (SPT) is a Sony Pictures Entertainment Company.
"Underground" cast on Twitter:
Jurnee Smollett-Bell @jurneesmollett
Aldis Hodge @AldisHodge
Christopher Meloni @Chris_Meloni
Alano Miller @AlanoMiller
Jessica de Gouw @jessdegouw
Amirah Vann @amirahvann
Marc Blucas @marcblucas
Reed Diamond @reeddiamond
Johnny Ray Gill @JohnnyRayGill
Theodus Crane @theoduscrane
Mykelti Williamson @mykeltiwmson
Adina Porter @AdinaPorter
Jussie Smollett @jussiesmollett
Christopher Backus @_cbackus
PJ Marshall @ThePJMarshall
James Lafferty @ThisIsLafferty
Chris Chalk @chalkchris
"Underground" creative team on Twitter:
John Legend @johnlegend
Misha Green @mishatrillXXL
Joe Pokaski @JoePokaski
Anthony Hemingway @shinybootz
Akiva Goldsman @AkivaGoldsman
Mike Jackson @mikemjackson312
Ty Stiklorius @tystiklorius
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SOURCE WGN America