WGN America Orders First Batch of Unscripted Series

In early 2015, the network will premiere "Wrestling with Death" and "Outlaw Country"
Courtesy of WGN America
Matt Cherniss

WGN America’s originals push continues.

The latest step is focused on unscripted, with a pair of docuseries slated to premiere in the first quarter of 2015. Just as the first batch of scripted entries, Salem and Manhattan, tackled different tones and genres, this duo lives at different points on the reality spectrum. There’s half-hour entry Wrestling with Death, centered on a family of morticians by day and professional wrestlers by night, and hour-long Outlaw Country, about two sets of brothers, one in law enforcement and the other who they suspect has caused the small town’s surge in crime. 

The orders comes as WGN America strives to establish itself a destination for originals, which will provide greater value to cable operators and advertisers alike. The unscripted foray will also help president Matt Cherniss and his team get closer to a goal of year-round original programming. Wrestling is set to premiere with 12 episodes January 13, while Outlaw bows with seven episodes February 24. Later in the year, they’ll be joined by second seasons of Salem and Manhattan along with newcomer Outsiders and Person of Interest and Elementary repeats.

Outlaw Country, which is executive produced by Bischoff Hervey Entertainment’s Eric Bischoff and Jason Hervey (The Devil’s Ride), is set in the town of Buckner, Missouri. Cameras will follow Steve and Mike Cook, brothers who act as Sheriff and head of the Buckner Criminal Task Force, respectively, as they clash with John and Josh Monk, brothers they suspect are responsible for the town's uptick in crime. Robert Kaprill and Peter Karlin will join Bischoff and Hervey as exec producers on the series.

For its part, Wrestling with Death, from Leftfield Pictures’ Brent Montgomery and David George (Pawn Stars), will take a deep dive into the dichotomous world of the Lathams of Osceola, Arkansas. They run The Wilson Funeral Home during the day and the Mid-Southern Championship Wrestling League at night. The series will run as 12 back-to-back half-hour episodes, with Jason Burinescu, Will Nothacker, Alex Weresow and Jordana Hochman alongside Bill Katz and Michelle Katz for Espiritus Productions also on board as exec producers.