WGN America screened its highly anticipated original series “Underground” Monday evening at the White House, as part of the White House Office of Public Engagement’s Black History Month event, “These Hallowed Grounds and ‘Underground’ Screening,” highlighting landmarks and monuments around the country significant to the African American community, including stops on the Underground Railroad.
The gripping premiere episode was lauded by attendees at the event held in the White House’s South Court Auditorium. In addition to the cast and creative team, the White House event was attended by Senior Administration Officials and led by Valerie Jarrett, Senior Advisor and Assistant to President Barack Obama. Deputy Secretary O’Dell, Deputy Director, National Park Services, provided additional remarks before the panels and screening commenced.
Other notables in attendance also included: Dr. Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham, Professor, Harvard University and President of The Association for the Study of African American Life & History; Dr. Cheryl LaRoche, Professor, University of Maryland College Park; Dr. Leslie Harris, Professor, Emory University; Dr. Clarence G. Newsome, President of the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center; Richard Dana, Attorney and Professor Adjunct at Kent State University; Dr. Salamishah Tillet, Professor at the University of Pennsylvania; Jeff Johnson, Moderator, Principal JLJ Communications; Peter Liguori, President and CEO, Tribune Media; Matt Cherniss, President and General Manager, WGN America; Zack Van Amburg, President, Programming & Production, Sony Pictures Television; Jamie Erlicht, President, Programming & Production, Sony Pictures Television; Anthony Hemingway, Director and Executive Producer of “Underground”; and Akiva Goldsman, Tory Tunnell, Joby Harold and Mike Jackson, Executive Producers of “Underground.”
Prior to the screening, the “Underground” cast and creative team, including executive producers John Legend and Akiva Goldsman, creators and executive producers Misha Green and Joe Pokaski, director and executive producer Anthony Hemingway, along with President and General Manager of WGN America, Matt Cherniss, and stars Jurnee Smollett-Bell, Aldis Hodge, Christopher Meloni, Alano Miller, Jessica de Gouw and Amirah Vann, participated in panel discussions in which they elaborated on the inspiration behind the escape thriller, premieringWednesday, March 9 (10 p.m. ET/PT) on WGN America, and produced by Sony Pictures Television and Tribune Studios.
Set in a desperate and dangerous time, WGN America’s original series “Underground” follows a group of courageous men and women who use their ingenuity, power and perseverance to attempt the greatest escape in history and break free, despite the dire consequences that awaited them on the other side. The 10-episode, hour-long program follows a courageous blacksmith who covertly organizes a small group of his fellow slaves and pieces together a daring plan of escape across hundreds of miles to freedom. The odds of success are razor-thin for those who make it off the plantation, while the risks, dangers and obstacles multiply each step of the way.