- Associated Press - Wednesday, March 5, 2014

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) - A new television series set against the backdrop of the U.S. government’s top-secret effort to develop the world’s first atomic bomb will begin production in New Mexico later this month, state officials announced Wednesday.

The drama “Manhattan” will follow a group of scientists and their families as they attempt to navigate a world of secrets and lies. The cast includes John Benjamin Hickey as the professor charged with leading the Manhattan Project and Daniel Stern as a mentor to young scientists who knows how to wade through politics.

“I’m excited that this series will highlight New Mexico’s celebrated history and our amazing, picturesque landscapes. I can’t wait to watch it,” Gov. Susana Martinez said in a statement.

The U.S. government’s $2.2 billion Manhattan Project operated from December 1942 until September 1945 at a remote installation in northern New Mexico, which later became home to Los Alamos National Laboratory.

At its peak, the project employed 130,000 workers, but it was kept largely secret and out of public view. It resulted in scientific and technological advancements that ushered in the atomic age.

The TV series, written and created by Sam Shaw and directed by Thomas Schlamme, is scheduled to premiere in July on WGN America. Network officials said last fall, when the series was first announced, that “Manhattan” had all the elements to make for a provocative and memorable series.

Martinez said the producers’ choice to work in New Mexico demonstrates that the state remains competitive in attracting movies and television projects.

Legislation signed by the governor last year increased from 25 percent to 30 percent the rebates allowed for television shows and large movie projects that spend at least 15 days on a New Mexico sound stage.

The lot in Santa Fe where “Manhattan” will do much of its filming is on state land. Officials say the property is designated strictly for economic development projects.

“Manhattan” is expected to employ about 200 local crew members and thousands of resident actors and background talent over the course of 13 episodes.

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