Press release from PBS, April 29, 2015:
Today, PBS announced that an award-winning cast and acclaimed television directors Roxann Dawson and Jeremy Webb will join its new Civil War-based drama, officially named MERCY STREET. The series is executive produced by Ridley Scott (Gladiator and Thelma & Louise) and David W. Zucker (“The Good Wife”) of Scott Free, and Lisa Q. Wolfinger (“Desperate Crossing, The untold story of the Mayflower”) and David Zabel (“ER”). Filmed on location in Virginia, the six-part series is the first American drama to air on PBS in more than a decade. The series will join a robust Sunday night drama lineup on PBS in winter 2016, including the final season of “Downton Abbey” on MASTERPIECE. Dean Devlin’s Electric Entertainment secured all foreign rights to the series early in the process, and will continue to sell international territories.
MERCY STREET cast in leading roles includes:
• Mary Elizabeth Winstead (“The Returned,” “Smashed,” The Spectacular Now) as Nurse Mary Phinney, a feisty New Englander and widow who is a newcomer at Mansion House Hospital.
• Josh Radnor (“How I Met Your Mother,” Liberal Arts, Broadway’s Disgraced) as Jedediah Foster, the civilian contract surgeon who grew up in a privileged Southern slave-owning household as the son of a wealthy Maryland landowner.
• Gary Cole (“Veep,” “The Good Wife,” “Entourage”) as James Green, Sr., patriarch of the Green family, struggling to maintain his family business while living in an occupied city.
• Peter Gerety (Syriana, Charlie Wilson’s War, Flight, God’s Pocket, “The Wire,” “Prime Suspect”) as Dr. Alfred Summers, chief surgeon at Mansion House, who has risen to the rank of major by virtue of his age, not skill.
• Norbert Leo Butz (“Bloodline”) as Dr. Byron Hale, an old-school army surgeon who lives life by the book. While Hale has an eye for the nurses, he has an ongoing relationship with Nurse Anne Reading.
• McKinley Belcher III (“Power,” “Madam Secretary,” “Chicago PD,” “Show Me A Hero”) as Samuel Diggs, a black laborer harboring a secret knowledge and ability in medicine, which he learned as a boy servant.
• Shalita Grant (“NCIS: New Orleans,” “Bones”) as Aurelia Johnson, a beautiful, stoical ‘contraband’ working as a laundress at the hospital, and trying to bury her past.
• Newcomer Hannah James as Emma Green, an entitled Southern young woman who volunteers as a nurse at Mansion House Hospital, the facility established on the site of her family’s luxury hotel.
• Cherry Jones (“24”), guest star, as Dorothea Dix, known as “Miss Dix,” the formidable superintendent of Union Army nurses.
Also starring in MERCY STREET are Jack Falahee (“How to Get Away With Murder”) as Frank Stringfellow; AnnaSophia Robb (“The Carrie Diaries,” The Way, Way Back, Bridge to Terabithia) as Alice Green; Cameron Monaghan (“Shameless”) as Tom Fairfax; Donna Murphy (“Resurrection,” “Hindsight,” Broadway’s Passion, The King and I) as Jane Green; Tara Summers (“Stalker,” “Rake,” “Boston Legal”) as Anne Hastings; L. Scott Caldwell (“Southland,” “Lost,” “ER,” The Fugitive) as Belinda; Suzanne Bertish (“Rome”) as Matron Brannan; Wade Williams (“Prison Break,” Draft Day) as Silas Bullen; Luke Macfarlane (“Brothers and Sisters,” “Over There”) as Chaplain Hopkins; and up-and-coming actor Brad Koed as James Green, Jr.
Acclaimed television director Roxann Dawson’s recent work includes directing episodes of “Stalker,” “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D,” “Lost,” “Heroes,” “The Mentalist” and “Treme.” She is also known for portraying B’Elanna Torres on the series “Star Trek: Voyager.”
Jeremy Webb has recently directed episodes of “Masters of Sex,” “Turn,” “The Red Road” and “Downton Abbey” for MASTERPIECE on PBS, for which he received a 2013 Primetime Emmy nomination for Outstanding Directing for a Drama Series. The extensive body of his television work in the UK includes episodes of “Doctor Who” and “Merlin” for BBC1 and Shine, respectively.
“It’s an honor to be able to tell the exciting stories of real experiences and struggles of the war,” said Beth Hoppe, Chief Programming Executive and General Manager, General Audience Programming, PBS. “I know this talented and diverse cast and crew will be able to bring MERCY STREET to life on screen. We will tell the story of what it was like in Alexandria, Virginia — the crossroads of the Civil War — by delving into the multifaceted lives of those in the hospital wards.”
Executive producer Lisa Q. Wolfinger said, “I’m delighted to be working with such a talented cast and crew on MERCY STREET, a remarkable story that portrays perhaps the most challenging time in our nation’s history. Our diverse and colorful cast of characters — Union doctors, female volunteers, contraband laborers and Southern loyalists — will bring to life the chaotic world of Union-occupied Alexandria, Virginia, and the Mansion House Hospital.”
David W. Zucker, executive producer, added, “We’re thrilled to welcome these amazingly talented directors and actors to the set of MERCY STREET, which tells the story of one of America’s most tumultuous times … . In their capable hands, this multi-layered story will be brought to life in a completely fresh and engaging series, including introducing two up-and-coming young cast members.”
MERCY STREET follows the lives of two volunteer nurses on opposing sides of the Civil War — New England abolitionist Mary Phinney and Confederate supporter Emma Green. The Green family’s luxury hotel in Alexandria, Virginia, has been transformed into Mansion House, a Union Army hospital tending to the war’s wounded. Inspired by memoirs and letters from real doctors and nurse volunteers at Mansion House Hospital, this new drama reveals the stories of those struggling to save lives while managing their own hardships.
The series, which commenced production this month, is shot in the Richmond and Petersburg, Virginia, areas.
Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe said, “We are proud to be hosting this series because it is a Virginia story and an American story of people who struggled to endure and prevail during one of the most divisive eras our nation has ever known. I enthusiastically welcome PBS and everyone involved in this important series to the Commonwealth. This new project from PBS will be an important contributor to the new Virginia economy.”
To depict a realistic and accurate account of this era, the writers and producers collaborated with historians and medical experts, including James M. McPherson (Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era), Dr. Stanley Burns (medical advisor to the HBO/Cinemax series, “The Knick”), Shauna Devine (Learning From the Wounded, the Civil War and the Rise of Medical Science), Jane Schultz (Women at the Front: Hospital Workers in Civil War America), George Wunderlich, director of the National Museum of Civil War Medicine, Audrey Davis, director of the Alexandria Black History Museum, and Anya Jabour (Scarlett’s Sisters, Young Women in the Old South).
Funding for the series has been provided by the Anne Ray Charitable Trust and the Sloan Foundation. Additional support is provided by a grant from the Virginia Motion Picture Opportunity Fund, with additional funding by Electric Entertainment and public television viewers.
MERCY STREET is a production of Sawbone Films and Scott Free Productions. Executive producers: Ridley Scott, David W. Zucker and co-creator Lisa Q. Wolfinger; co-creator and writer David Zabel; co-executive producer Clayton Krueger; and producer David Rosemont.