The role of slaves as master carpenters, furniture builders and wheelwrights in the 19th Century U.S. gets the spotlight - albeit as backdrop to a larger story - in the miniseries, Underground, premiering Wednesday, March 9.
For casual viewers, some of the sets and props - a slave planing the face of an unfinished skiff; a solid oak, built-in bookcase and barroom; a walnut grand piano - might fly under the radar. But wood craftsmen will certainly take note of these backdrops - some live elements of the real plantation in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, that forms the setting of some scenes - as well as the layout of a woodshop run by Sam (played by Johnny Ray Gill) under the envious gaze of the plantation owner, Tom Macon (played by Reed Diamond) who acknowledges he sometimes wishes he was working with his hands in the shop.
“Underground” is produced by Sony Pictures Television and Tribune Studios, and is broadcast on WGN America cable. It features th story of blacksmith Noah (played by Aldis Hodge) who covertly organizes a small group of his fellow slaves and pieces together a risky plan of escape across hundreds of miles to freedom.
The woodshop scenes are mostly missing from the trailers promoting this escape thriller, named for the Underground Railroad that thousands of slaves used to escape captivity before the Civil War. Academy Award-winning musician John Legend is executive producer on the project, from creators and executive producers Misha Green and Joe Pokaski. While the woodworker Sam is only a supporting role (though pivotal to woodworkers), the program stars Jurnee Smollett-Bell and Aldis Hodge, and follows the group of courageous men and women who attempt the greatest escape in history and break free, despite the dire consequences that awaited them on the other side.
“Underground” features an acclaimed cast, including Jurnee Smollett-Bell (“True Blood,” “Friday Night Lights”), Aldis Hodge (“Straight Outta Compton”), Christopher Meloni (“Sin City: A Dame to Kill For”), Alano Miller (“Jane The Virgin”), Jessica de Gouw (“Arrow,” “Dracula”), Marc Blucas (“Buffy the Vampire Slayer”), Adina Porter (“The 100”), Mykelti Williamson (“Justified,” “24”), Amirah Vann (“Girls,” “And So It Goes”), Johnny Ray Gill (“Rectify”), Chris Chalk (“Gotham”), Reed Diamond (“Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.”), Theodus Crane (“The Walking Dead”), Renwick Scott (“Treme”) and Jussie Smollett (“Empire”).
“Underground” is created by Misha Green ("Sons Of Anarchy," "Heroes") and Joe Pokaski (“Daredevil,” "Heroes,") who executive produce alongside Academy Award-winner Akiva Goldsman ("A Beautiful Mind," "I Am Legend") of Weed Road Pictures; and Joby Harold ("King Arthur," "Edge of Tomorrow") and Tory Tunnell ("King Arthur," "Holy Rollers") of Safehouse Pictures. Visionary artist and producer John Legend, an Academy Award, Golden Globe and multi-Grammy Award winner, and his Get Lifted partners Mike Jackson and Ty Stiklorius executive produce. Additionally, Get Lifted oversees all elements of the show’s music. Anthony Hemingway (“The Wire,” “Treme”) directs and serves as executive producer for the first four episodes. @UndergroundWGN | #BreakFreeWGN
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