The WGN network is currently producing a new drama series about the Salem Witch Trials, aptly titled “Salem.”
According to the network’s recent press release, the show is set in 17th century Massachusetts and “explores what really fueled the town’s infamous witch trials and dares to uncover the dark, supernatural truth hiding behind the veil of this infamous period in American history. In SALEM, witches are real, but they are not who or what they seem. The show, which centers on an epic romance wrapped around this explosive revelation, delivers a bold new vision of Salem – and an even bolder new vision of witches.”
The show was created by award-winning producers Brannon Braga (24, Stark Trek, Voyager and Enterprise) and Adam Simon (The Haunting in Connecticut) and will be directed by Richard Shepard (Criminal Minds, Ugly Betty and HBO’s Girls).
Filming of the 13 one-hour long episodes begins in the fall of 2013 and will premiere in 2014.
The show, which is the WGN network’s first original scripted series, is produced by Fox21, the cable production division of Twentieth Century Fox Television.
Getting the show off the ground proved challenging for Fox21 from the very beginning. Originally titled “Malice,” it was first sold to FX in the summer of 2012. After the producers of the FX series “American Horror Story” announced that their upcoming season three revolved around a coven of witches, FX backed away from “Malice” and gave Fox21 permission to take it to WGN, who eagerly picked up it and renamed it “Salem.”
“Salem” is not the first time the Salem Witch Trials has been featured on the small screen. A number of sitcoms, documentaries, drama series and reality shows have also featured the witch trials over the years:
♦Bewitched (1970): Six episodes of Season 7 were filmed on location in Salem with a plot that involved traveling back in time to 1692.
♦In Search Of…(1981): Episode 109 in Season 5 is titled “Salem Witches.”
♦Voyagers (1982): In Episode 4 of Season 1, titled “Agents of Satan,” main characters Bogg and Jeff save the mother of Benjamin Franklin, Abaia Folger, from being hanged during the Salem Witch Trials.
♦Three Sovereigns for Sarah (1985): A mini-series starring Vanessa Redgrave, Will Lyman and Kim Hunter that first aired on PBS on May 27, 1985.
♦The Simpsons (1997): A segment of the 1997 Halloween special “Treehouse of Horror VIII” is based on the Salem Witch Trials
♦Sabrina the Teenage Witch (1997): In Episode 23 of Season 1 “The Crucible,” Sabrina goes on a class field trip to Salem to re-enact the witch trials. Sabrina’s cat on the show, Salem Saberhagen, was named after the witch trials.
♦Histeria! (1998-2001): In Episode 36 of the animated television series for children, titled “When America Was Young,” featured a sketch based on the Salem Witch Trials.
♦In Search of History (1998): A History Channel’s television series which aired an episode titled the “Salem Witch Trials.”
♦Charmed (1998): A WB series featuring three witches whose ancestor was burned at the stake during the Salem Witch Trials.
♦Secrets of the Dead (2001): Episode 1 of Season 2 is titled “Witches’ Curse.”
♦Witch Hunt (2002): a History Channel documentary featuring the Salem Witch Trials.
♦Salem Witch Trials (2002): a CBS mini-series about the Salem Witch Trials starring Kirstie Alley, directed by Joseph Sargent and written by Maria Nation.
♦Unsolved History (2003): Episode 23 in Season 2 of the Discovery Channel’s series is titled “Salem Witch Trials.”
♦Ghost Hunters (2007): In Episode 17 of Season 3, titled “Salem Witch,” the Ghost Hunters investigate the Hawthorne Hotel and Lyceum Restaurant in Salem, which are reportedly haunted by Bridget Bishop.
♦Ghost Adventures (2012): In Episode 15 of Season 7, titled “Killer Nightlife,” the crew investigate the Lyceum restaurant and the Witch House in Salem, the home of Salem Witch Trials Judge Jonathan Corwin.
♦The Vampire Diaries (2009): A CW series featuring a protagonist whose ancestors were witches forced to flee Salem during the witch trials.
♦Salem: Unmasking the Devil (2011): a National Geographic Channel documentary about the Salem Witch Trials hosted by novelist Katherine Howe.
♦Bones (2010): Episode 20 of Season 5, titled “The Witch in the Wardrobe” is based on the Salem Witch Trials.
HBO recently announced it also producing a new drama about the Salem Witch Trials with Jenji Kohan, the creator of the shows “Weeds” and “Orange is the New Black.” The project currently does not have a title or an air date.
Deadline; WGN America Greenlights Its First Original Scripted Series: http://www.deadline.com/2013/06/wgn-america-greenlights-its-first-original-scriptd-series-brannon-bragas-salem/
TV By The Numbers; WGN Orders First Original Series “Salem” From Fox21, Prospect Park and and Producers Brannon Braga and Adam Simon: