Manhattan: A Secret History

by HFPA July 26, 2014

The new series Manhattan, which marks WGN’s first foray in original content, recounts the events surrounding America’s development of the atomic bomb in 1943-44. Those events are, as the show’s creator Sam Shaw told us, “like something out of a science fiction premise.” To create the weapon that was to end the war the government created a secret city from scratch in the New Mexico desert and populated it with the country’s brightest scientific minds under the direction of physicist J Robert Oppenheimer. Many of those scientists were torn between wartime duty and their qualms about building a weapon capable of sowing untold death and destruction. The series explores the lives of characters based on Manhattan Project personnel that were at once patriotic servants of their country and prisoners of a mission cloaked in complete, almost obsessive secrecy. Like executive producer Thomas Schlamme (The West Wing) told us at a special preview presentation held at the Paley Center in Beverly Hills, those circumstances makes Manhattan an ideal drama in which to explore themes that strongly resonate with the present: Secrecy, privacy and the role of science and government – all that plus the intrigue and drama inherent in America’s secret city.