Whoever said history was boring clearly wasn’t paying attention. WGN America’s Underground – a critically acclaimed drama dealing with the Underground Railroad that helped so many slaves to freedom, has quickly become the network’s most watched series ever – and by an almost ridiculous margin (follow the jump for the amazing numbers).
Small wonder then, that the network has ordered a second season of the show – and has begun a campaign to promote the series as an Emmy contender.
WGN AMERICA RENEWS STANDOUT SERIES ‘UNDERGROUND’ FOR A SECOND SEASON
CRITICALLY ACCLAIMED UNDERGROUND RAILROAD THRILLER, CREATED BY MISHA GREEN AND JOE POKASKI AND EXECUTIVE-PRODUCED BY JOHN LEGEND, IS THE NETWORK’S MOST-WATCHED ORIGINAL SCRIPTED PROGRAM EVER
“Underground” 2016 Primetime Emmy Campaign Kicks Off Full-Season Marathon to Air Before the Finale, Wednesday, May 11
Los Angeles, April 25, 2016 – WGN America’s Underground Railroad thriller “Underground,” among the most widely praised series of the year and the network’s most-watched original program ever, has been renewed for a second season, it was announced today by Matt Cherniss, President and General Manager, WGN America and Tribune Studios. The breakout hit series, created by Misha Green and Joe Pokaski, draws 3 million Total Viewers on Wednesday nights season-to-date in Live + 7 delivery, lifting an average of +131% in time-shifted viewing among Adults 25-54, and is the #6 highest-rated scripted series premiere of any cable drama this season. “Underground” was the #1 original scripted series on cable last Wednesday night across all key demos in Live + 3 ratings.
“With enormous pride we are announcing a second season of ‘Underground,’ a series that has resonated with so many passionate fans across the country,” said Cherniss. “We are deeply proud of the work that the talented cast, crew and production team have done to bring this story to life, led by our gifted creators Misha Green and Joe Pokaski and our partners at Sony Pictures Television. It is an honor to have ‘Underground’ on our air and we look forward to how the story will unfold in what is sure to be a stellar sophomore season.”
Executive-produced by Misha Green, Joe Pokaski, John Legend, Akiva Goldsman, Tory Tunnell, Joby Harold, Mike Jackson, Ty Stiklorius and Anthony Hemingway, “Underground” follows a courageous group of American heroes who attempt a daring flight to freedom in the greatest escape in history. Produced by Sony Pictures Television and Tribune Studios, the 10-episode second season order is set to begin production this summer for a 2017 debut.
“When we came together to create ‘Underground,’ we had one mandate, and that was to be bold. To evoke the spirit of the American heroes who bent the arc of history,” said Green and Pokaski. “To our extraordinary cast and crew who gave blood, sweat and tears to breathe life into this story, thank you for being bold with us. To our supportive partners at WGN America, Sony Pictures Television, Weed Road, Safehouse and Get Lifted, thank you for being bold with us. And to all the ‘Underground’ fans who tune in every week, tweet and spread the word, thank you for being bold with us. We are beyond thrilled to have the honor and privilege to continue this journey.”
John Legend said, “‘Underground’ isn’t just a television show. It’s a movement. It is storytelling at its finest, and the brilliant work that Misha, Joe and our cast have done to infuse Underground with the kind of passion that’s made it part of the zeitgeist is incredible. This show does so much more than entertain, it inspires us to reflect on our past and learn from those mistakes to make a brighter future for our children. Thanks to everyone at WGN America, Sony Pictures Television and my Get Lifted partners Mike Jackson and Ty Stiklorius for putting their hearts and souls into ‘Underground.’ We look forward to a spectacular season two.”
“We’re tremendously proud of this series, from Misha and Joe’s powerful and unflinching storytelling, to John Legend’s heart-pounding soundtrack and creative contributions to the breakout performances of our gifted cast,” said Zack Van Amburg and Jamie Erlicht, Presidents of Programming and Production, Sony Pictures Television. “It’s been gratifying to see the audience for ‘Underground’ grow each week, and we are looking forward to continuing our partnership with WGN America to bring viewers more of these thrilling stories of courage, pain and heroism.”
“Underground” is outpacing WGN America’s 2015-2016 primetime average by +508% in Total Viewers, +864% among Adults 25-54 and +1005% among Adults 18-49 in Live +7 viewing.
The celebrated cast of “Underground” includes Jurnee Smollett-Bell as Rosalee, Aldis Hodge as Noah, Christopher Meloni as August Pullman, Alano Miller as Cato, Jessica de Gouw as Elizabeth Hawkes, Marc Blucas as John Hawkes, Adina Porter as Pearly Mae, Mykelti Williamson as Moses, Amirah Vann as Ernestine, Johnny Ray Gill as Sam, Chris Chalk as William Still, Reed Diamond as Tom Macon, Theodus Crane as Zeke, James Lafferty as U.S. Marshall Kyle Risdin, Renwick Scott as Henry and Jussie Smollett as Josey.
WGN America has kicked off its For Your Consideration Emmy campaign for “Underground,” which includes print, online, social media and out-of-home ads, as well as on-air promotion and a dedicated screening room for Academy of Television Arts and Sciences members to view the series’ full first season across multiple devices. The network is also providing DVD screeners of “Underground” to the Academy’s entire 18,000+ membership body, and recently hosted a special screening event for members.
“Underground,” which was screened at the White House in February, boasts a large and loyal fan base that live tweets the series each week, along with the cast and creative team, making “Underground” the #1 most social cable drama on Wednesday nights. The series trended worldwide last week, on the same day the U.S. Department of the Treasury made its historic announcement that abolitionist and humanitarian Harriet Tubman, who led many enslaved people to freedom on the Underground Railroad, will appear on the face of the $20 bill, a decision lauded on social media by the cast and creators.
“Underground” has broadly garnered raves, including this small sampling of recent press:
- “gifted ensemble and propulsive momentum” –Time Magazine
- “dramatically compelling” – The Wall Street Journal
- “‘Underground’ tells a story we have not seen, a story we need to see.” – Los Angeles Times
- “‘Underground’ is overdue — and right on time…a thunderous TV drama” – The Washington Post
- “a harrowing and compelling series that will make you feel uncomfortable, amazed, and ultimately inspired ” – Deadline Hollywood
- “One of the most entertaining and powerful examples of the Golden Age of TV” – Paste Magazine
- “‘Underground’ is the most powerful show on TV.” – Ebony
- “smash hit” – NYTimes.com
In the newest episode of “Underground,“ entitled “Grave,” airing Wednesday, April 27 at 10:00 p.m. ET/PT, the Macon 7’s perilous escape route to freedom takes them to Kentucky where they are met with suspicion by the local authorities. The finale will air Wednesday, May 11, preceded by an all-day “Underground” marathon for fans to binge-watch the entire 10-episode first season, beginning at 1:00 p.m.
Set in a desperate and dangerous time, WGN America’s “Underground” tells the story of revolutionaries of the Underground Railroad who use their ingenuity, will and power to attempt the greatest escape in history despite the dire consequences that awaited them on the other side. The provocative and compelling series focuses on a group of courageous men and women who band together for the fight of their lives—for their families, their future and their freedom.
The season two order for “Underground” comes on the heels of WGN America renewing “Outsiders,” another hit series in its growing stable of high-quality original programming. The network’s popular original series “Salem” returns for a third season Halloween week.
[Source: Nielsen Media Research — Live + 7, Live + 3]