12:41pm PT by Lacey Rose
Brannon Braga's Salem Witch Trials Drama Ordered to Series at WGN America
With Matt Cherniss newly installed as president, WGN America has ordered its first original scripted series.
The first project is a drama titled Salem, from Brannon Braga (24, Star Trek: TNG, Terra Nova) and Adam Simon (The Haunting in Connecticut), which will go straight to series with 13 episodes. The hourlong entry hails from Fox 21, the cable studio responsible for such cable dramas as Homeland and Sons of Anarchy, and was initially developed at FX. Production is set to begin in the fall, with a plan to premiere on WGN in 2014. The news comes as Cherniss looks to bolster both his executive team as well as his programming slate at the Tribune-owned network.
Salem is set in the volatile world of 17th century Massachusetts, and explores what really fueled the town's infamous witch trials. The series will look to uncover the dark, supernatural truth hiding behind the veil of this ignominious period in American history. The witches featured are real, but they are not who or what they seem. What’s more, the drama, which centers on an epic romance wrapped around this explosive revelation, delivers a bold new vision of Salem -- and an even bolder new vision of witches.
“Brannon and Adam have an amazing vision for the world and characters that comprise Salem, Massachusetts, during the witch trials, and we believe that a great adventure full of supernatural romance and action awaits the viewer," said Cherniss, who joined the company after a stint on the feature side at Warner Bros. Before that, he spent several years in top programming posts at both Fox and cable sibling FX. The new position reunites him with his former boss, Tribune CEO Peter Liguori.
“As we expand our cable television business through Fox 21, we are always on the lookout for new opportunities, and we couldn't be prouder to be the first studio to produce an original scripted series for WGA America,” noted Twentieth Century Fox Television chairmen Dana Walden and Gary Newman. Fox 21 president Bert Salke added: “Salem is a passion project of ours at Fox 21, and Matt and Peter’s enthusiasm for it was instantaneous and incredibly gratifying. We are excited to be delivering WGN America its inaugural scripted series and look forward to continuing to develop with the network in the years ahead.”
Salem, which was formerly titled Malice, was created and written by WME-repped Braga and Simon, who will serve as executive producers alongside Prospect Park’s Josh Barry and Jeff Kwatinetz.