Chicagoland and Death Row Stories are on their way to CNN.


Panel at the Sundance screening of Chicagoland (left to right): Robert Redford, executive producer; Marc Levin, executive producer, Elizabeth Dozier, principal of Chicago’s Fenger High School; Mark Benjamin, executive producer; Jeff Zucker, president of CNN Worldwide.

Chicagoland, which screened during the Sundance Film Festival, is about the victories and struggles of an American city, shown from the point of view of several key people in the community. 

In the first two episodes of the eight part series, we meet Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who’s planning the largest city-wide school closure in US history; Elizabeth Dozier, the principal of a local high school threatened by cuts, doing anything to keep her students safe; and Garry McCarthy, the police superintendent doing his damnedest to curb gang activity and shootings.

We also see the citywide protests against Emanuel and meet those who nickname him the “murdering” mayor. We also hear from Emanuel himself and get a sense he’s doing what he thinks is right (even if we don't really get his reasoning). And we hear from students closures will effect—many of whom will have to walk through gang territory to get their new schools.

Along with Chicago's controversies, you’ll see the city unite over the Blackhawks 2013 Stanley Cup championship and Police Chief Leo Schmitz connecting with the citizens of Englewood, the community he serves. 

This show’s addicting, and you’ll see history as it happens.

Chicagoland is executive produced by Robert Redford and Laura Michalchyshyn of Sundance Productions, along with executive producers Marc Levin and Mark Benjamin. See it on CNN, starting March 6. 


Panel at the Sundance screening of Chicagoland.

Death Row Stories follows a new capital murder case in each episode. Narrated by Susan Sarandon, the show will make you rethink your stance on the death penalty and the justice system. Lying cops and lawyers, plea deals and evidence juries never saw rear their ugly heads. 

The first episode tells the story of how Edward Lee Elmore, a 23-year-old African American handyman, was convicted of murdering a white woman in 1982, and how it could be a cover-up. The episode we saw follows the case of Gloria Killian, who was found guilty of being the mastermind of a robbery and murder, committed by people she says she didn’t know.

Editing on the show is terrific, mixing plenty of found footage and interviews with the primary sources. The viewer gets the story from both the defense and prosecution, and the debate will continue on the couch after the show is over. The show’s format isn’t very original (it has that City Confidential vibe), but it’s one of the better ones like it you’ll watch.

Robert Redford and Laura Michalchyshyn for Sundance Productions, executive produced this show, along with the show's creator Alex Gibney, Dave Snyder, Stacey Offman and Brad Hebert for Jigsaw Productions. The show starts March 9.