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CNN show will focus on issues in Chicago

Marc Levin

Marc Levin

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Updated: May 8, 2013 8:13AM



Get ready for your close­up, Chicago.

“Chicagoland,” a reality series slated to run on CNN, currently is filming in the city by the same team that created Sundance Channel’s “Brick City.”

“Brick City” was a documentary series about Newark, N.J., a city synonymous with crime and corruption, and its hunky Mayor Cory Booker. It aired on Robert Redford’s Sundance Channel.

CNN approached the “Brick City” team about creating a similar series focused on a different city. Chicago was the obvious choice, said Marc Levin, the “Chicagoland” producer who also created “Brick City.”

“Chicago has its own unique and specific culture and history, but it’s also a kind of metaphor for where we’re all going as Americans,” said Levin. “The president is from here. The mayor is one of the most notable political faces in the country. And the issues here are the issues people are facing everywhere.”

Filming started on St. Patrick’s Day. Levin and others working on “Chicagoland” are casting a wide net for both interesting Chicago stories and people to feature.

City Hall is working with the filmmakers, and it appears Mayor Rahm Emanuel has some fans in the team putting “Chicagoland” together. Levin said Emanuel’s “reform agenda” will be part of the show.

In a statement, Redford expressed admiration for the mayor, calling him “tough” and “visionary.”

“We are pleased that CNN has chosen Chicago, the most American of American cities, for its inaugural series to showcase how the city and our vibrant communities are working to generate change and innovation in education, economic development and public safety to ensure Chicago remains a thriving global city,” Emanuel’s press secretary Tarrah Cooper said in an email.

Laura Michalchyshyn, who is executive producing “Chicagoland” with Redford, said the show will be about more than crime and politics.

“There’s great, rich diversity, cultural heritage, art, architecture and design,” Michalchyshyn said. “There’s a lot of storytelling on a cultural level. We’re really pleased to be in Chicago this summer.”

Filming is scheduled to wrap up in October. The series, part of an attempt by the cable news behemoth to diversify its programming, is expected to air in early 2014.



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