CHICAGO - Cynical viewers of Robert Redford's CNN series "Chicagoland" have been saying all along that it was a nothing more than an array of puff pieces - if not outright campaign ads - for Mayor Rahm Emanuel.
Not so, argued Emanuel fans, "Chicagoland" draws America's attention to what it takes to run a diverse urban center like Chicago - a tough mayor, a tough police chief and at least one tough high school principal.
But the Chicago Tribune FOIA'd the Mayor's office and found emails between the series creators and the mayor's emissaries which also revealed the schmoozing it took to get the series produced.
More than 700 emails reviewed by the Tribune reveal that the production team worked hand in hand with the mayor's advisers to develop storylines, arrange specific camera shots and review news releases officially announcing the show, the report says.
For example, in a July 2013 exchange from CNN's Marc Levin to several on Emanuel's staff, Levin asks for more access to the mayor behind the scenes to attract the television audience:
And then Levin pours on the charm, saying they want to "...present him as the star he really is ..."
The series was sponsored and paid for by Allstate Insurance. A sample of one of the episodes: