In a sign WGN America is moving ahead with its transition from a Chicago-based Superstation to a national cable network, the channel held its first-ever TCA Press Tour Presentation this past weekend. And it was here it announced its biggest project ever.
WGN America has ordered ten episodes of The Ten Commandments from the Weinstein Company. Each episode is being directed by a different filmmaker – Michael Cera, Lee Daniels, and Wes Craven are among the talent already on board. Each of the ten episodes would deal with one of the commandments.
WGN’s The Ten Commandments is not related to the 1956 theatrical classic of the same name, which is still seen annually on ABC, usually on the night before Easter Sunday.
Meanwhile, WGN America is readying its first scripted drama (Salem) which premieres April 20, and another drama (Manhattan) scheduled to debut in July.
The moves are being made to change the image of WGN America, from a Chicago TV station carrying Cubs games and local news distributed via satellite to a national cable network in order to attract more ad revenue.
But WGN America has plenty of hurdles – namely distribution – ahead of them. In Chicago, WGN America is only available on satellite (Dish and DirecTV), and is not carried in many portions of the Northeastern U.S., including portions of New York City. Unless carried by a video-on-demand (VOD) service, viewers in those areas who want to see Salem or The Ten Commandments are out of luck.
Quick Hits & Bits: TCA edition
– During CNN’s presentation, network president Jeff Zucker (remember him?) described Fox News as “The Republican party is being run out of News Corp. headquarters being masqueraded as a cable channel.” Zucker and Fox News chief Roger Ailes should slug it out in the Melrose Place pool.
– The Sundance Channel renews zombie series The Returned and The Writers Room for a second season.
– ESPN announced it would produce several soccer-related documentaries in its 30 for 30 series as it prepares of the 2014 FIFA World Cup. The package contains six half-hour films and two feature-length: Hillsborough and White Blue and White.
– Usually, HBO renews a show for a second season a day after it premieres (as was the case with Boardwalk Empire and Girls.) But Millennial-targeted channel Pivot has took it a step further – it renewed variety series HitRecordonTV for a second season – even before the first season even begins!
– Time for a Revolt: the new music channel founded by Sean Combs and Comcast, is launching a daily live music strip titled Revolt Live, airing at 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. Central time beginning January 27 (and the 7 p.m. edition is NOT a repeat!) Hosted by Sibley and DJ Damage, the show features breaking music news, new releases, and performances and interviews from mainstream, underground, and alternative artists.
In Chicago, you can find Revolt on channel 476 on Comcast (channel position may vary.)