By: Chelsea Brasted, NOLA.COM/The Times Picayune
The cast and crew of WGN America's "Underground" are just beginning to wrap up several months spent filming the network's upcoming and much-anticipated drama about slaves looking to escape their Deep South chains, but they've clearly enjoyed their time in Baton Rouge.
During a visit on set this week, the show's creator, writer and executive producer Misha Green sang praises for the LSU Rural Life Museum, which has played home to the cast and crew for one of its several locations in southeast Louisiana.
"What has Baton Rouge brought to this production? Heat and mosquitos," she laughed. "No, we couldn't be anywhere else. LSU, the Burden Museum — they've opened their doors to us. ... It makes a big difference to be in actual slave shacks that had slaves in them. I remember when the actors went on a tour there, they were like, 'Wow, we're about to be telling these stories in the places these people were?' I think that adds to the show and the feel and vibe in a way that we couldn't have found anywhere else."
Alano Miller plays Cato on WGN America's 'Underground,' which is set to premiere sometime in early 2016. The drama was filmed in Baton Rouge.
Green and actor Alano Miller, who joins "Undergound" in the role of Cato and who's also on CW's "Jane the Virgin," both named The Rum House as a frequent haunt, although most of their time is spent on set. They also occasionally head to Tsunami because, as Green said, "it makes us feel a little New York-ish."
"The state as a whole, it feels like there's an embrace that's happening, and I see it throughout the community," Miller said. "I feel like people are here to show love, and it's like, if it's not the music bringing you together, it's the food or some type of festival. It's some type of celebration of life, which I think is really cool, and it's very unique."
Miller said he sees Louisianians "take ownership" of their home in a way he's never seen before.
"People have a view of politics here, people have a view on education here and people take — it's a really big deal about food," he laughed. "These (food) reviews I've read here, like two pages long. That's a little thorough. That's a little scary, but all right."
Although details are scarce about "Underground," and much will remain so until the final weeks before its premiere sometime in early 2016, some news has been released about the project. The ensemble cast is filled out by Aldis Hodge, Jurnee Smollett-Bell, Christopher Meloni, Mykelti Williamson and Reed Diamond, and Green is joined by Joe Pokaski as creator/EP/writer.
Among the few headlines the show has produced was last week's that John Legend had signed on as an executive producer and had agreed to do its music.
Legend, who won an Oscar with Common for the song "Glory" in last year's Civil Rights movie "Selma," will create "a signature sound to this story that is unlike any that the audience has experienced for a show set in this time period," according to WGN America president and general manager Matt Cherniss.
Cherniss spoke to NOLA.com TV writer Dave Walker about "Underground" during the network's presentation at the Summer TV tour in Hollywood. Read his interview here.