WGN America Hands 13 Episode Straight-To-Series Order To Drama ‘Manhattan’

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WGN America is adding another scripted entry to their line-up for 2014. The network has given a 13 episode straight-to-series order to Manhattan, a drama series about the Manhattan Project which hails from Skydance Television, Tribune Studios and Lionsgate Television. Production on the series is slated to commence in New Mexico this Winter, with WGN America eyeing a Summer 2014 premiere.

Created by Sam Shaw, Manhattan is set against the backdrop of the greatest clandestine race against time in the history of science – the mission to build the world’s first atomic bomb in Los Alamos, New Mexico – Manhattan follows the brilliant but flawed scientists and their families as they attempt to co-exist in a world where secrets and lies infiltrate every aspect of their lives. Skydance Television, Tribune Studios and Lionsgate Television are producing with Sam Shaw, David Ellison, Dana Goldberg and Marcy Ross serving as executive producers. Thomas Schlamme – arguably best known for his work on The West Wing – is attached to direct.

The pick up of Manhattan comes as WGN America is pursuing an aggressive push into original scripted programming for the very first time, with an eye to move to year-round original programming. To that end, WGN America also recently pick up of Salem, a drama series about the Salem Witch Trials which hails from veteran producer Brannon Braga and Fox 21 and received an order for 13 episodes back in June.

“Sam and Tommy’s passion for the world of Los Alamos, the Manhattan Project, and the characters who populate it came through from the moment we all sat down to discuss the project, and we couldn’t be more excited to support them as they bring their vision to life,” said Matt Cherniss, President & General Manager of WGN America and Tribune Studios. “We feel Manhattan has all of the elements to make for a provocative and memorable series and are excited to have the support of Skydance and Lionsgate as WGN America continues its rapid expansion toward year-round original programming on the network.”

Marcy Ross, President of Skydance Television, commented: “When we read Sam Shaw’s incredible script, we knew instantly that this was the project we wanted to pursue as our flagship television show. Knowing that the brilliant Tommy Schlamme was attached as the director made the project even more undeniable.  We found the perfect partners in Lionsgate and my former colleagues that are now at Tribune, Peter Liguori, Matt Cherniss and Jon Wax. We are thrilled and honored to be a part of the WGN America network launch.”

While Kevin Beggs, President of Lionsgate Television Group, added: “We’re delighted that WGN America has chosen Manhattan as one of its first original dramas. The events surrounding the Manhattan Project ushered in a new chapter in world history that still has resonance today, and Sam’s brilliant script has laid the foundation for a truly great series.  We couldn’t have better partners on this project than Skydance and Tribune Studios, and we look forward to a terrific collaboration.”