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‘Chicagoland’: An unscripted saga of city life

March 5, 2014 • Entertainment


This image released by CNN shows Elizabeth Dozier, center, principal of Fenger High School in Chicago a scene from the CNN documentary, “Chicagoland.” The 8-episode series will debut on Thursday, March 6 at 10p.m. on CNN. (AP Photo/CNN)

NEW YORK (AP) — When President Barack Obama spoke out last week against the crime, violence and poverty that ensnares young men of color in epidemic numbers, he might have been voicing a promo for “Chicagoland,” the docuseries debuting Thursday on CNN.

Noting ruefully how “we assume this is an inevitable part of American life instead of the outrage that it is,” Obama set the stage for more than one Chicagoan to be featured in the show.

There are outrages aplenty in “Chicagoland” (whose eight episodes air Thursdays at 10 p.m. and repeat at 1 a.m. Eastern, with additional encores). But the series isn’t a finger-wagging jeremiad, nor is it an unrelieved bummer to watch. While often disturbing, it is also hope-inspiring, and never less than dramatically addictive.

CNN has given over this airtime to independent filmmakers Marc Levin and Mark Benjamin, whose many collaborations include the Peabody Award-winning series “Brick City,” a portrait of Newark, N.J., and Cory Booker, its then mayor, that aired on Sundance a few years ago to great acclaim.

Employing the same immersive, multi-stranded style of storytelling, “Chicagoland” Login to read more

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