PBS, known for showcasing so many British series, brought something a little different to their segment of Deadline’s first-ever Contenders Emmys all-day event at the DGA Theatre. With Mercy Street, their first home grown original dramatic series in a decade, they wanted something distinctly
American, according to co-creator and Executive Producer David Zabel who appeared on the panel with three of his stars. He felt the Civil War provided a juicy backdrop but wanted to do a series that wasn’t the typical Civil War battle show, but rather one with nuance, something a little different. So Mercy Street actually tells untold stories of the period and is set in a Union Hospital in Alexandria, Virginia, with the focus on the doctors, nurses and freed slaves. Actor Gary Cole, who had never done a Civil War project before, said he was especially intrigued by the fact that the show wasn’t about battles, but rather an occupied city. Shalita Grant, who plays a runaway slave, feels the show is important in showing what black men and women really went through at the time. She did major research and preparation in order to play the part truthfully, she says. Josh Radnor talks about the attraction of playing a character full of contradictions, a union loyalist who is not an abolitionist but also a doctor on the cutting edge of medicine. Mercy Street has already been renewed for a second season by PBS. To watch my conversation with all of them just click on the link above.