August 13, 2014 8:00am PT by Philiana Ng
WGN America Orders 'Titans' Straight to Series, Eyes Slave Drama
WGN America is continuing to bet on scripted with two new dramas.
The Chicago-based network has given a straight-to-series order to hourlong drama Titans, from Rescue Me's Peter Tolan and Paul Giamatti, and is eyeing a series greenlight for Underground, a pre-Civil War slave drama project from A Beautiful Mind's Akiva Goldsman, The Hollywood Reporter has learned.
Both projects hail from Sony Pictures Television and Tribune Studios, and are expected to launch in 2015 though Underground — which has begun preproduction and has opened its writers' room — has yet to receive an official order.
Titans, with a 13-episode pickup, centers on the Farrell clan, a family of outsiders who have been in the hills of Appalachia since before anyone can remember. Living off the grid and above the law on their mountaintop homestead, they'll protect their world and defend their way of life using any means necessary. Playwright Peter Mattei is the creator and executive producer, alongside Tolan, Giamatti, Dan Carey and Michael Wimer.
Underground, from creator Misha Green (Sons of Anarchy) and Joe Pokaski (Heroes), follows the slaves who set foot on the fabled Underground Railroad, the secret network of men and women who risked their lives aiding them and the mercenaries tasked with hunting them down at any cost. Executive producers include Green, Pokaski, Goldsman, Tory Tunnell and Joby Harold.
“These projects, each exploring a world we find to be unique and fascinating, continue our aggressive expansion into original scripted programming,” said Matt Cherniss, president and general manager of WGN America and Tribune Studios. “Everyone at WGN America is pleased to enter this next phase of our growth with Sony Pictures Television as an important partner on these projects, along with such talented creators and producers.”
“WGN America has made a commitment to quality programming, and we are happy that working together is a significant part of their growth strategy,” said Zack Van Amburg, president of programming and production for SPT. Added Jamie Erlicht, president of programming and production for SPT: “High-quality original series have consistently helped establish channel brands with the audience, and WGN appreciates and takes that value proposition seriously."
With the Titans order and the likely Underground pickup, WGN America would nearly double its original scripted offerings, joining already-renewed Salem, the atomic bomb drama Manhattan, currently in its first season, and the 2015 miniseries Ten Commandments.