Chris Meloni to Star in WGN Slavery Drama Underground — With Kanye West Eyed as Musical Contributor

Chris Meloni’s latest project is pointing him north.

The Law & Order: SVU and True Blood vet has landed a lead role in WGN America’s period drama Underground — which has been ordered straight to series.

The one-hour drama “follows a group of slaves who plan a daring escape from a Georgia plantation to cross 600 miles to freedom, aided along the way by a secret abolitionist couple running a station on the Underground Railroad,” according to the network. To succeed, they’ll have to “evade those tasked with bringing them back, dead or alive.”

Meloni will play August, who is described as “a secretive mercenary walking a tightrope between survival and morality.”

Additional major roles for the series, which is set for a Spring 2016 premiere, are: Jurnee Smollett-Bell (Friday Night Lights) as Rosalee, “a shy house slave with an powerful inner strength and courage”; Aldis Hodge (Leverage; Turn) as Noah, “a brave and clever slave on the plantation with dreams of freedom and a dangerous plan to escape”; and Jessica De Gouw (Arrow, Dracula) as Elizabeth, “a socialite who shares her husband’s abolitionist ideals.”

More casting announcements for Underground will be made soon, according to WGN.

The project has an impressive pedigree, coming from creators/executive producers Misha Green (Sons of Anarchy) and Joe Pokaski (Heroes), plus EP Akiva Goldsman (Fringe, A Beautiful Mind, Insurgent). Anthony Hemingway (Treme, The Wire) is set to direct the series’ first two episodes.

What’s more, sources say that music superstar (and notorious speech interrupter) Kanye West is being eyed to serve as a major music contributor — though that deal has not been finalized.

Excited about Meloni coming back to your TV set? What about the rest of Underground‘s cast? Will you tune in? Sound off below!

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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  1. Erik Bentsen says:

    Kanye West for a slavery period piece? Are they trying to have it cancelled before it even airs??

    • Kaney West says:

      I’mma let you finish, Erik, but Idris Elba is the best actor for that role. If Chris respected the art of acting he’d give it to Idris!

  2. Linda Marks Rogers says:

    Sounds like a good series, but hope that Christopher Meloni can tone it back. He was so over the top on SVU and True Blood. Got real tired of that. I will give it a try!

  3. mandy says:

    Anything with Christopher Meloni makes me very very happy!

  4. if KW has anything to do with it I will definitely NOT be watching

  5. livstabler says:

    I’d watch Meloni cut his toenails…

  6. dj says:

    Leave Kanye out of it. He’ll be a turn off to many people.

  7. Michelle says:

    Chris Meloni makes anything worth watching. Love him.

  8. Ed says:

    Will Meloni be naked? That’s all I care about.

  9. God NOOO Im over all these damn Slave themed movies…I won’t be watching this..I’m black and I would like to see some other type of drama. After 12 years a slave, I just can’t watch any more slave theme projects..

    • Pelta says:

      The director of “12 Years a Slave” said there should be many more projects about American slavery, and since then there have been with BET’s “Book of Negroes,” History Channel’s upcoming remake of “Roots,” and now this.

    • Lizo says:

      Right. It’s like black people cease to exist after slavery was abolished, popped back up to fight for civil rights and then went away again until Obama. Friggen Hollywood.

  10. Chip Ramsey says:

    Glad to see WGN-A creating compelling programming since no one is watching it anymore due to them canceling sports. Baseball was the only reason people watched them in the first place.

  11. Can't Wait says:

    Well, love Chris Meloni and will definitely tune into see what he has to offer on this show. He is a great talent and needs to find his niche so that we can get to see him regularly once again.

  12. I love Meloni but anything having anything to do with Kanye West, I want nothing to do with.

    • Toni Pierce says:


  13. Lizo says:

    Y’know Hollywood, there *are* other stories about black people you can tell that aren’t about slavery or the 60s. Only telling those stories is so reductive and pushes into some sort of ‘racism porn’.

  14. liame says:

    Seems like an interesting series, I’ll give it a look-see. I’m not surprised by the dislike for Kanye, to some people he comes across as arrogant, intelligent, fearless, brave, well accomplished, rich, controversial, kind, loving and sexy. All that in one man would make anyone hate him.

  15. Ethel says:

    Seeing Meloni again is nice BUT seeing Aldis Hodge again…….awesome!!

  16. Uhh, leave off the Kanye please.

  17. Goldie says:

    Sounds like a good program. So far the cast sounds good, especially Chris Meloni….. Drop Kanye West!!! I know there are better singers out there that aren’t jerks and can handle themselves with much better class.