Oscar and Grammy-winning actor, artist, activist and Chicago native Common and his Freedom Road Productions is teaming with Ample Entertainment (Cold Case Files, Cooper’s Treasure) and Rebecca Halpern Productions on a political docuseries set around the upcoming 2019 Chicago Mayoral race. The companies will begin pitching the project to premium cable networks and streaming platforms this week.
On February 26, 2019, Chicagoans could make history by electing their first black female mayor, their first openly gay mayor, or their first Latino mayor. The 21 candidates running for the city’s top job make up the largest, most diverse pool of hopefuls Chicago has ever seen.
Chicago/2019 is the real-time documentary television series that follows these candidates as they fight for votes in the most cutthroat arena in local politics. A city’s mayoral race doesn’t usually make national headlines, but Chicago isn’t just any city – it’s a political powerhouse, and it’s a microcosm of the country. With record breaking violence, racial segregation, failing schools, and a looming pension crisis, Chicago is emblematic of the issues that plague America. And, when something newsworthy happens in Chicago, the whole world watches.
Common, Derek Dudley, and Shelby Stone executive produce for Freedom Road Productions, with Ari Mark and Phil Lott for Ample Entertainment, Rebecca Halpern and Michael Masters for Rebecca Halpern Productions, and Susan Cronin.
“Chicago is a city that has my heart. It is a place that has shaped and informed who I am. Anytime I get to be a part of stories that revolve around Chicago, I get sparked,” said Common. “This show is especially important to me because it has the chance to influence the city’s future. We all know the city has had its trials and tough times, but I believe in a better Chicago and better days for the people of Chicago. I’m happy that this show can contribute to its healing and rebuilding by giving the truth and letting the people take it from there.”
“The story of America is playing out in Chicago and it’s happening now. With our partners, a team of Chicago natives with deep personal roots, we can capture this pivotal chapter in Chicago’s history through the lens of their upcoming mayoral race with a raw, live authenticity,” added Ari Mark, co-President for Ample.
Common, who recently signed an overall deal with Lionsgate TV, starred in installments of Lionsgate film franchises John Wick and Now You See Me. He won an Oscar for the original song “Glory” from the film Selma. He also received an Emmy for his music in Ava DuVernay’s Oscar-nominated and Emmy-winning documentary 13th. Common is currently starring in and executive producing the hit television series The Chi on Showtime, which is going into its second season for premiere in 2019.
Freedom Road is currently in development on a half-hour series with Roxane Gay at Amazon, the one-hour series Black Samurai with Cormac & Marianne Wibberly at Starz, a feature at Blumhouse, as well as Zora Neal Hurston’s last published book and New York Times bestseller Barracoon, as well as numerous other feature and tv projects.
Ample is currently producing a second season of Murder in the Heartland for Discovery ID, The Lost Gold of WW2 for History and Could You Survive the Movies with YouTube influencer Jake Roper for YouTube. The company has overall production partnerships with Courteney Cox as well as veteran producers John Henshaw (The Pitch) and Ed Gorsuch (Gold Rush), respectively.
Veteran producer and Chicago native Halpern currently has a project in development at Discovery, and she recently partnered with Academy Award-winning director Robert Zemeckis, ImageMovers and Outpost Entertainment on Elemental for NatGeo. Halpern also created Animal Witness with Oscar-nominated director Ridley Scott for Animal Planet. Her producing credits include the long-running series American Greed (CNBC), After the First 48 (A&E), Gangland (History), Snapped (Oxygen), and FBI: Criminal Pursuit (ID).