‘Mercy Street’ Creator Says Confederate Flag Controversy ‘Has Been On All of Our Minds’

TCA 2015: Executive producer David Zabel claims PBS drama “will be even more useful now”

Last Updated: August 1, 2015 @ 4:38 PM

David Zabel, co-creator and executive producer of PBS’ upcoming Civil War-era drama series “Mercy Street,” said that the recent controversy over the Confederate flag has informed the making of the show.

“Of course it’s been something that has been on all of our minds making the show,” Zabel said Saturday at the Television Critics Association summer press tour. “I believe the show will be even more useful now.” The controversy over the flag, he added, “makes the story that we’re telling more pertinent, more timely, more illuminating”

Set in a Union hospital in the occupied Confederate city of Alexandria, Va. in 1862, “Mercy Street” is PBS’ first American-made drama in more than 10 years. The series is produced produced by Ridley Scott and David W. Zucker of Scott Free with Lisa Q. Wolfinger and David Zabel. Among the stars are Josh Radnor, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Gary Cole, AnnaSophia Robb, Jack Falahee, Tara Summers, Norbert Leo Butz, Hannah James and McKinley Belcher III.

Filming on the show was completed this summer in Virginia, and the series is currently in post-production. PBS president and CEO Paula Kerger announced Saturday that the series will premiere Jan. 17 at 10 p.m. following the third episode of the final season of “Downton Abbey.”

Co-creator Lisa Q. Wolfinger said of the show’s portrayal of Confederate culture, “What was really exciting to us was that Alexandria was the longest occupied Confedererate town in the Civil War, so that natural juxtaposition of North and South was really exciting to us.”