‘Underground’ Canceled at WGN America, Own, BET Have Passed On Picking Up Period-Drama

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Reality TV is taking over basic cable as it has network TV in primetime.  WGN America has officially passed on a third season of Underground.   In the wake of parent company Tribune Media’s $3.9 billion planned acquisition by Sinclair Broadcast Group, the cable network’s future as a destination for high-end scripted originals is over. And that includes the pricey and critically lauded slave drama produced by Sony Pictures Television. Season two of the series, from executive producer John Legend, wrapped May 10.

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“Despite Underground being a terrific and important series, it no longer fits with our new direction and we have reached the difficult decision not to renew it for a third season. We are tremendously proud of this landmark series that captured the zeitgeist and made an impact on television in a way never before seen on the medium,” Tribune Media president and CEO Peter Kern said Tuesday in a statement.

He continued: “We thank the incomparable creators Misha Green and Joe Pokaski and the great John Legend, along with the talented creative team and cast who brought the unsung American heroes of the Underground Railroad to life. We are grateful to the loyal fans of Underground and our partners at Sony Pictures Television. It is our hope that this remarkable show finds another home and continues its stories of courage, determination and freedom.”

 

Kern, who replaced Peter Liguori atop Tribune Media earlier this year, foreshadowed the move away from high-end scripted when he canceled WGN America’s top-rated drama Outsiders in April. At the time, Kern claimed the surprising move was meant to reallocate resources “to a more diverse programming strategy” that would be more cost-effective and reach a broader audience.

The exec described the new strategy as a way “to increase our relevance within the rapidly changing television landscape” in his statement Tuesday. “This move is designed to deliver additional value for our advertising and distribution partners and offer viewers more original content across our air.”

 

Written By: Tommy Lightfoot Garrett
Photographs are Courtesy:  WGN America
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