John Legend’s production company Get Lifted will executive produce WGN America’s slave drama “Underground,” the cable channel told reporters at Wednesday’s Television Critics Association Summer Press Tour.
Additionally, Get Lifted will oversee all music aspects of the series, including its score and soundtrack.
WGN America’s “Underground” stars Aldis Hodge as Noah, a restless slave who organizes a small team of fellow slaves on the Macon plantation to plan an escape; Jurnee Smollett-Bell as Rosalee, a shy house slave with a powerful inner strength and courage; Christopher Meloni as August Pullman, a secretive man who walks a tightrope between morality and survival; Alano Miller as Cato, a cunning, charismatic man despised and feared by his fellow slaves; and Jessica de Gouw as Elizabeth Hawkes, a socialite who shares the abolitionist ideals of her husband, John (Marc Blucas), a lawyer whose principles clash with the legislation he’s sworn to uphold.
The cast also includes Adina Porter as Pearly Mae, a strong-willed wife and mother; Mykelti Williamson as her husband Moses, a fiery preacher; Amirah Vann as Ernestine, head house slave and fiercely devoted mother; Johnny Ray Gill as Sam, Rosalee’s half-brother and a talented carpenter; Chris Chalk as William Still, an abolitionist ally; Reed Diamond as Tom Macon, a plantation owner and political candidate; and Jussie Smollett as Josey, a wild-eyed runaway who doesn’t trust anyone.
“Underground” is created and written by Misha Green and Joe Pokaski, who serve as executive producers alongside Academy Award-winning writer Akiva Goldsman of Weed Road Pictures; Tory Tunnell and Joby Harold of Safehouse Pictures. Anthony Hemingway directs and serves as executive producer for the first four episodes.
From Sony Pictures Television and Tribune Studios, “Underground” is currently in production in Baton Rouge, La., for a 2016 premiere on WGN America.
Mike Jackson and Ty Stiklorius are partners with Legend (pictured above) in Get Lifted and exec producers on the drama. Get Lifted also produces Pop’s “Sing It On.”
“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. “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 Green and Pokaski. “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,” said Matt Cherniss, president and general manager, WGN America and Tribune Studios. “We look forward to John, Mike and Ty’s creative imprint on this series that we believe will be both provocative and captivating.”