The William Morris Endeavor clients decided to ask that their agency not represent them in the deal so as to avoid a conflict of interest when covering Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel, brother of WME co-CEO Ari Emanuel. The agency agreed with the decision…
The filmmakers tell The Hollywood Reporter that the project is an evenhanded look at the mayor and the city, which was rocked by a bitter teacher’s strike and has grappled with a high murder rate. “The teacher’s union thought we were with Rahm, and Rahm thought we were the teacher’s union,” Benjamin says.
The pair gained extraordinary access to Rahm Emanuel, which was facilitated by David Axelrod, the Chicago-based former campaign adviser to President Barack Obama. Rahm was Obama’s first chief of staff and helped him get elected in 2008. Ari was instrumental in mobilizing the Hollywood donor community to back Obama.
Levin and Benjamin shot footage over an eight-month period in which the murder rate did go down, but they say they were prepared to cover the city’s story however it unfolded. “We expect criticism,” says Levin. “So long as it’s from all sides, we’ll be happy. If someone says we’re too kind or too critical to one side, that wouldn’t be good.”
In a series like this, I imagine there will be plenty of unhappy viewers. Regardless, it should be interesting to see how Chicago and its mayor are portrayed. City effectively responding to 21st century challenges or superactive mayor needed to help a city escape its own troubles? Additionally, I think it will be difficult to convey the complexity of a global city like Chicago in eight episodes and by focusing on its leader. Leaders are important but they don’t dictate everything happening in a city of nearly 3 million people.