WGN America Continues String of Original Programs

Two new scripted dramas join expanding series slate

WGN America is building on the successful release of two new original dramas earlier this year, Salem and Manhattan, with the announcement today of its next straight-to-series scripted drama, Titans. Still one more drama, Underground, is in production. Sony Pictures Television and Tribune Studios are producing both series with an expected rollout next year, WGNA said in a release.

The new series continues a push earlier this year by WGNA to produce multiple original series and event programs. Witch drama Salem was the first, premiering April 20 with 1.52 million viewers and a 0.5 rating among adults 18-49. The debut far surpassed WGNA’s typical demo performance.

Manhattan, about the building of the world’s first atomic bomb, drew a smaller crowd, but was still more than the norm for the network, according to the Los Angeles Times.

The new one-hour series, Titans, is a struggle for power and control set in Appalachia. It was created by playwright Peter Mattei, who also serves as executive producer with Emmy Award-winning Peter Tolan (Rescue Me, Analyze This) and Emmy award-winning actor Paul Giamatti (John Adams, Sideways). WGNA has ordered 13 episodes. 

Underground, created by Misha Green (Sons of Anarchy, Heroes) and Joe Pokaski (Heroes, CSI), follows slaves living in pre-Civil War South on the road to freedom by way of the Underground Railroad.

The announcement of the new series comes a week after Tribune rebranded itself as Tribune Media. The company, which owns WGNA, also announced it was spinning off its troubled print publication into Tribune Publishing. The moves reflect Tribune’s shift from a print-centric content company to digital and broadcast distribution content and distribution.

In announcing the new series, Matt Cherniss, president and general manager of WGN America and Tribune Studios, said, “These projects, each exploring a world we find to be unique and fascinating, continue our aggressive expansion into original scripted programming. Everyone at WGN America is pleased to enter this next phase of our growth …”

Wouldn’t hurt, though, if Titans and Underground also do as well as Salem and Manhattan in attracting viewers.