Emails reportedly show close coordination between CNN team, Emanuel on 'Chicagoland'

Producers behind a CNN documentary series on Rahm Emanuel -- a series billed as unscripted -- coordinated closely with the Chicago mayor's staff on everything from camera shots to storylines, according to a new report based on hundreds of internal emails.

The Chicago Tribune reviewed more than 700 emails pertaining to the making and filming of "Chicagoland," an eight-part series which finished airing last week.

Though coordination can be expected in any documentary series, the emails reportedly show the Emanuel administration playing an active role in the narrative -- and producers encouraging them to play ball.

One email showed executive producer Marc Levin appealing to the mayor's office last May to be "on the phone in his SUV, in city hall with key advisers and his kitchen cabinet and meeting with CPS head BBB (Barbara Byrd-Bennett) and with CPD (Superintendent Garry) McCarthy."

The first episode of the series showed several such scenes.

In a separate exchange, the daughter of a PR executive who helped arrange the CNN/Emanuel project reportedly emailed the mayor's press secretary asking for "the list of story/interview ideas that you and your team were going to put together" for the producers.

The two teams also coordinated on press releases.

According to the Tribune, the same woman forwarded copies of the draft news release announcing the series to Emanuel's office in early 2013.

"This version is considered final for CNN. Thoughts?" she reportedly wrote.

But CNN maintained that Emanuel's office was "never granted editorial control over the content or the press communications for Chicagoland, and no agency was ever granted authority to offer the mayor's office editorial approval for the content or the promotional materials for the series."

Both sides downplayed the level of coordination.

Emanuel spokeswoman Sarah Hamilton told that the office worked with the CNN team to highlight "the great work being done in Chicago," as it would with any news outlet.

"This was no different. The producers of Chicagoland were not from here and, as such, had very little background on the city and the work being done," she said. "They asked for examples of work taking place and events they could attend, which we provided. This is no different from information we provide reporters -- including the Tribune -- everyday."

Levin acknowledged to the Tribune that "everything the mayor does is stage-managed," but stressed that the office did not have editorial control over the project.

The Tribune reported that the emails show the producers sometimes were not granted full access, something Levin said he was "eternally frustrated" by.

But in another exchange reported by the Tribune, a producer asked Emanuel's staff about getting the mayor and Fenger High School Principal Elizabeth Dozier together, following a phone call between the two.

"Need the mayor at Fenger High School with Liz also. I know i am needy but we want more Rahm in the series," the email reportedly said.

The mayor's office made no promises but said they were working on getting Emanuel to the school. The scene was part of the final episode.