The ABC-owned stations are producing a new documentary on disgraced former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich.
But in a marked departure, the new series is not appearing on WLS-TV/ABC 7 or any of the ABC-owned stations themselves or even their digital channel Localish. It’s streaming exclusively on Hulu.
Being Blago drops this Friday and features four months of exclusive access to Blagojevich’s life after serving time in prison for trying to sell Illinois’ vacant senate seat after Barack Obama – who was senator of Illinois at the time – was elected President. The four-part series also features more than twenty years and one hundred-plus hours of archival footage – much of it from Chicago’s ABC-owned WLS-TV and featured reporting from the station’s investigative reporter, Chuck Goudie.
“While the story of Rod Blagojevich has local appeal in Chicago, the overall journey, including his downfall and release from prison, has broad national appeal,” said Justin Allen, Being Blago’s co-executive producer and director, and senior coordinating producer, content development at ABC Owned Television Stations. “As we consider premium content with an appeal to a broader audience, it was a no-brainer for ABC Owned Television Stations to produce Rod’s story and distribute it nationally on Hulu.”
The ABC Owned Stations group and Hulu are both part of The Walt Disney Company. ABC owns only eight stations – the smallest of any major station group, but are in large markets. In addition to Chicago, ABC owns stations in New York, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, San Francisco, and Houston. ABC also owns stations in the smaller Raleigh-Durham and Fresno-Vistilia, Calif. markets.
Becoming the first Democrat in 30 years to be elected Governor of Illinois, Blagojevich was swiftly impeached and was convicted of selling the senate seat. He received a fourteen-year sentence in a federal prison in Colorado, but was pardoned by then-President Trump last year (of course, appearing on his Celebrity Apprentice back in the day didn’t hurt.) Since his release, Blagojevich – now a “Trumpocrat”, launched a new podcast series for Cumulus in May 2020 called Lightning Rod with Rod Blagojevich. While he was waiting to get sent to the slammer, Blagojevich did appear on Cumulus’ WLS-AM a few times, between 2009 and 2011.
“After a long exile, I made it home”, the former Governor said at the time the Cumulus deal was announced. “It’s a brand new day. I’m finally free and fired up to speak my mind, provide insights from the inside, and share what I’ve learned from the school of hard knocks.”
A year or so after Blagojevich was in prison, his wife Patti was featured as a contestant on NBC’s short-lived I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here, a shlock Survivor-like reality show that had a prior run earlier at ABC.
While you can roll your eyes and say we don’t need another reminder of this man, keep in mind the story of his rise and fall is indeed fascinating whether you admit it or not. And it’s something to keep us occupied as we await the inevitable 30 for 30 on a similar subject with the Chicago Blackhawks and Dateline’s expose on Eric Ferguson.
But what’s notable here is a local station group is producing a series for a sister streaming service instead of on their own air. It’s basically a sign of the times in the television business.
In other words, it’s “bleepin’ golden” for Hulu.