Pre-Production News and Notes (8/27/11)

As work continues on To Appomattox before the official start of production, we want to keep you informed of the latest word and notes on the upcoming miniseries. So here is some of the latest news and notes concerning the project.

  • The producers have cast several actors that are veterans of Ron Maxwell’s Civil War films Gettysburg and Gods and Generals. The first actor cast from those works was Patrick Gorman, who portrayed Confederate General John Bell Hood in both films. In To Appomattox, he will switch sides, and portray Union Colonel Charles F. Smith. Recently, Michael Beckner announced that Stephen Lang, who played General George Pickett in Gettysburg, and “Stonewall” Jackson in Gods and Generals, was on board for the series, and is considering portraying President Abraham Lincoln. Jeff Daniels, who portrayed Union Colonel Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain in the Maxwell films, has been approached for a role as well.
  • As previously reported, NASCAR racing analyst Jeff Hammond has been cast as Union General George Thomas, who will feature in episode six of the series. He will be joining fellow NASCAR associate Carl Edwards, who will portray Confederate General John B. Gordon in the series. The producers are currently in discussion with other NASCAR drivers and associates to portray roles in the series, connecting the history of the American Civil War with that of one of America’s leading competitive sports.
  • In addition to their roles as producers of the soundtrack for the miniseries, Country Music’s Rascal Flatts’ members Gary LeVox, Joe Don Rooney and Jay Demarcus will also have roles in the series. LeVox will portray Union Sergeant Combs; Rooney will play Confederate Captain Goree, General James Longstreet’s aide; and Demarcus will portray Jesse Dunlap, a Confederate Private in the series. They will be joining several other prominent country artists that have key roles in the series, including: Trace Adkins (Confederate General John Gregg), Dwight Yoakam (Union General George Gordon Meade), and Laura Bell Bundy (Abby Dunlap).
  • Although the series will cover the entire four years of the American Civil War, the “dramatic spine” of the series comes from the memoirs of Union General Ulysses S. Grant, which will make up for half of the story featured in To Appomattox. This will give time to several prominent events of the Western Theater, many of which have never been explored on film in great detail. The other half of the series will focus on the events of the Eastern Theater of the conflict.

Ulysses S. Grant, the main character of the series.

  • Music will be a crucial part of the new series. One piece of music that will be used is Franz Biebl’s “Ave Maria.” Although it was written in the 1960s, the song has a timeless feel that more than fits with the Civil War era, and will feature prominently in a Christmas montage in Episode Six. The song will be sung by a choir of wounded Confederate soldiers. The producers will cast wounded veterans of the recent conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan to portray these soldiers. The special recording of this song for the series will be released as a single at Christmastime, with all proceeds going to disabled veterans.

That is all the news for now. We’ll be back next week with more. If any breaking news on casting or production comes out, you’ll find out about it here. Stay tuned!

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About Steven Hancock

I am an avid student of American and World History, with a particular interest in the American Civil War. I am currently a student at American Public University, working toward a Master's Degree in United States History. I am also a Civil War Reenactor, donning the uniform of the common Union and Confederate soldier at reenactments throughout the year.
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