When WGN America canceled escape from slavery epic “Underground” in May, the cast and crew rallied to drum up support to keep it on the air. Executive producer John Legend reignited the fire today (September 27) with a Twitter essay imploring fans to #SaveUnderground.
In it, he connected the surge of White supremacist violence and the fight to topple monuments to the Confederacy with the necessity of a show like “Underground,” which explores the work of Harriet Tubman, Frederick Douglass and the mass of Black people who fought their way off plantations in the American South.
He also links the cancellation of the show with the network’s new connection to Sinclair Broadcast Group. Legend writes that the company—which Chicago Tribune reports is currently waiting approval from federal regulators to complete its acquisition of WGN’s parent company, Tribune Media Company*—has “pursued a strategy of buying up local networks and moving their news coverage to fit their far-right agenda.” A story from the The New York Times that was published in May says that the company has a history of airing Conservative-leaning content.
After this story was published, the company contacted Colorlines via a representative with the following statement: “Sinclair Broadcast Group does not own WGN and has no influence on the programming decisions made by the channel.”
Legend ends his post by saying that the cast and crew behind “Underground” are still committed to getting a third season of the show on air.
“It remains our hope that not only is there a future for this show, but for many others like it,” he writes. “Let’s #SaveUnderground so that we can continue to inspire and educate the American people about these true American heroes.” Legend does not say in the post how fans can help.
Read the full post below.
*Story has been updated to reflect that Sinclair Broadcast Group has not yet completed the acquisition of WGN America’s parent company, Tribune Media Group, and to add the company’s statement.