By Curt Wagner, @ShowPatrol
4:06 PM CST, January 15, 2014
WGN America is new to the scripted drama business, but its first series, "Salem," is looking like a scary winner.
The story of the infamous witch trials in 17th century Massachusetts, "Salem" will premiere April 20, the network has announced. It's second drama, "Manhattan," is set to start production in March in New Mexico with an eye on a July premiere.
A promo teaser for "Salem" features the voice of Seth Gabel, who plays Cotton Mather, a character described as a witch-hating aristocrat, as he warns the people of Salem that if they shows signs of being witches--and he spells those out--they will be burned at the stake.
Currently filming in Louisiana, "Salem" "explores how suspicion and fear gripped Salem and its residents, and reveals the truth that in Salem, the witches were real, but not who they seemed to be."
Joining Gabel is Shane West, looking much shaggier than he did in "Nikita." West plays John Alden, a war veteran and the onetime love of Salem's most powerful witch, Mary Sibley. Britsh actress Janet Montgomery stars as Mary, with former "Revenge" star Ashley Madekwe playing Mary's enigmatic, carnal accomplice. Xander Berkeley, another "Nikita" vet, plays chief politician Magistrate Hale, while Tamzin Merchant plays Anne Hale, an artist attracted to Alden, and Elise Eberle is the mysteriously afflicted Mercy Lewis.
Brannon Braga ("24," "Star Trek: The Next Generation," "Voyager" and "Enterprise") and Adam Simon ("The Haunting in Connecticut") co-created, executive produced and wrote the series.
"Manhattan" is set in Los Alamos, N.M. in the 1940s, when scientists at the Manhattan Project were racing to build the world's first atomic bomb. The drama explores the cost of secrets and the corrosive effect they have on individuals, families and their relationships.
Sam Shaw ("Masters of Sex") wrote the series and serves as executive producer with David Ellison, Dana Goldberg and Marcy Ross. Thomas Schlamme ("The West Wing," "Sports Night") directs and also serves as executive producer. "Manhattan" is produced by Tribune Studios, in partnership with Skydance Television and Lionsgate Television.
The network also announced at the Television Critics Associaton winter tour that it has ordered a 10-part scripted event series titled "Ten Commandments" from The Weinstein Company. Ten filmmakers will take part in the production, with each one choosing a single Commandment and interpreting it in their own way. Gus Van Sant, Lee Daniels, Jim Sheridan, Wes Craven and Michael Cera have signed on so far, WGN America has said. Bruce Cohen and Bob Weinstein will produce the series.
Find your local WGN America channel here.
RedEye, like WGN America, is a Tribune Company property.
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