New eight-part CNN documentary series on Chicagoland

CNN ordered a new series directed by Robert Redford that looks at Chicago:

In Chicagoland, executive producers Robert Redford and Laura Michalchyshyn team with Brick City filmmakers Marc Levin and Mark Benjamin in an eight-part series about “a city generating change and innovation in social policy, education, and public safety – to meet national and local challenges.”

According to CNN’s release, Chicagoland will capture “the riveting, real-life drama of a city looking to unite at this critical moment in the city’s history. In the aftermath of a countrywide economic collapse, Chicago faces the challenges of improving its public education system, and neighborhood and youth safety. Can the city’s leaders, communities, and residents come together in ways that expand opportunities and allow aspirations to be realized?”

In a statement, Redford praised Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel: “The vibrant culture and opportunities inherent in this 21st century, world-class city run alongside profound daily challenges. Much of it falls on the shoulders of its tough, visionary mayor, his team and people doing heroic work in neighborhoods throughout the city. Chicago has always had a rhythm all its own. It’s a city that wears its heart on its sleeve and I am honored to be a part of telling this story.”

“Chicago is the quintessential American city and where it goes tells us a lot about where our country is going,” added series producer Levin.

Some quick thoughts:

1. Generally, the term “Chicagoland” is used to refer to the entire metropolitan region of over 9 million people, not just the city of Chicago. But, it sounds like the series is primarily about the city. It would be interesting if there was some focus on the region as a whole…

2. The last quote from the producer fits with a common image of Chicago: Chicago is a truly American city with the possible strengths and weaknesses that come as being part of the United States as well as being located more in the center of the country. Chicago has had this image for at least a century now and it sounds like the documentary will continue this idea.

3. I wonder how laudatory or critical the documentary will be. How much criticism or praise will local politicians receive? How much of the documentary will talk about positive aspects of the city/region versus the present challenges?

4. Connected to #3, will the documentary be more like the recent biting book review in the New York Times or sounds more like Chicago boosters?

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