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CNN's 'Chicagoland' to focus on the city, Mayor Emanuel

By Curt Wagner, @ShowPatrol

RedEye

11:42 AM CDT, May 10, 2013

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Mayor Rahm Emanuel's getting his own reality show. OK, that's not exactly true, but apparently Rahmbo's trips to Hollywood have been paying off in bigger ways than with gifts and campaign contributions. He's about to get a publicity boost, too: CNN has ordered and eight-part docuseries called "Chicagoland."

Produced by Robert Redford and Laura Michalchyshyn of Sundance Productions, "Chicagoland" aims to "explore where politics and policy meet real people's lives--in a city generating change and innovation in social policy, education and public safety--to meet national and local challenges."

And the mayor, famous for his animated facial expressions (see gallery above), better get ready for his close-up.

"The vibrant culture and opportunities inherent in this 21st century, world-class city run alongside profound daily challenges,” Redford said in a CNN release. “Much of it falls on the shoulders of its tough, visionary mayor, his team and people doing heroic work in neighborhoods throughout the city.

"Chicago has always had a rhythm all its own. It’s a city that wears its heart on its sleeve and I am honored to be a part of telling this story."

Redford might be a fan, but Emanuel's got some work to do on the home front, according to a new Tribune/WGN-TV poll that shows 53 percent of Chicagoans say he is not in touch with their lives and concerns, and 40 percent disapprove of the job he is doing as mayor, while 50 percent approve.

"Chicagoland" is set to premiere in early 2014 on CNN. The network's press release is below.

FROM CNN:
Executive produced by Robert Redford and Laura Michalchyshyn of Sundance Productions, and award-winning filmmakers Marc Levin and Mark Benjamin of BCTV, CHICAGOLAND is a non-scripted, eight-part original series about a heartland American city. It is as authentic an American city as there is, and the series will explore where politics and policy meet real people’s lives--in a city generating change and innovation in social policy, education, and public safety--to meet national and local challenges.

Beginning in early 2014, viewers will watch the riveting, real-life drama of a city looking to unite at this critical moment in the city’s history. In the aftermath of a countrywide economic collapse, Chicago faces the challenges of improving its public education system, and neighborhood and youth safety.  Can the city’s leaders, communities, and residents come together in ways that expand opportunities and allow aspirations to be realized?

“The vibrant culture and opportunities inherent in this 21st century, world-class city run alongside profound daily challenges,” said Redford. “Much of it falls on the shoulders of its tough, visionary mayor, his team and people doing heroic work in neighborhoods throughout the city,” continued Redford. “Chicago has always had a rhythm all its own. It’s a city that wears its heart on its sleeve and I am honored to be a part of telling this story,” he added.

“We’re very pleased to bring this unique long-form series to the network,” said Amy Entelis, senior vice president for talent and content development for CNN Worldwide. “CHICAGOLAND is a creative exploration of stories relevant to every city and every American,” Entelis said.

“CNN is thrilled to collaborate with the team that brought the award-winning BRICK CITY to television, and producers Redford and Michalchyshyn, to spotlight this groundbreaking story,” said Vinnie Malhotra, senior vice president of development and acquisitions for CNN Worldwide. “CHICAGOLAND will be shared with CNN’s global audience--and supported by supplemental reporting on the critical issues explored in the series,” Malhotra said.

“Chicago is the quintessential American city and where it goes tells us a lot about where our country is going,” said series producer Levin. "We are excited to bring this new kind of docu-series to CNN.”

“If change can happen here--at this school, it can happen anywhere,” Fenger High School principal Liz Dozier vows in CHICAGOLAND. Fenger’s stories, and other Chicago tales, unfold on CNN in early 2014.

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