If it appeared as though some of the scenes from CNN’s documentary series “Chicagoland” weren’t authentic, that’s because they weren’t.
More than 700 emails reviewed by the Chicago Tribune reveal that a production team worked hand in hand with the mayor’s advisers to develop storylines, arrange certain camera shots and review news released officially announcing the show.
Producers asked the mayor’s office to help them set up key interactions in what the cable network has billed as a nonscripted eight-part series, including Emanuel’s visits with the school principal who emerged as a star of the show, emails show.
City Hall’s frequent correspondence with the producers illustrates how senior aides to a mayor known for shaping his media image managed how their boss would be portrayed on CNN to a prime time national audience.
The production team for the series, whose final episode aired Thursday night, told Emanuel’s staff that particular scenes would present the mayor in a positive light, with one of the producers expressing a desire to showcase the mayor “as the star that he really is.” […]
After the first episode aired on television in March, Emanuel was asked what he thought of the series.
“I haven’t watched it,” he said.
In his pitch to the mayor’s office last May, creator and executive producer March Levin wrote that the show “is a real opportunity to highlight the Mayors leadership – his ability to balance the need for reform and fiscal reality with compassion for affected communities and concern for the safety of Chicago’s school children.”
Levin also requested that producers needed “the mayor on the phone in his SUV, in city hall with key advisers and his kitchen cabinet and meeting with CPS head BBB (Barbara Byrd-Bennett) and with CPD (Superintendent Garry) McCarthy.”
The first “Chicagoland” episode featured just what Levin had requested. The emails were obtained through an open records request.
A CNN spokeswoman issued a statement today. “Access requests for filming on city property and at official events were submitted in advance for permitting and scheduling purposes as is done for all municipal filming of this type,” the statement read.
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