The producers of “Live PD” are reviving the show’s live format on Reelz, but under a new working title: “On Patrol: Live” is set to premiere later this summer, the network announced Wednesday. Like “Live PD”, the show will be broadcast live twice a week (Friday and Saturday nights from 9pm to midnight).
The news comes two years after A&E shut down “Live PD,” following ongoing protests against police brutality and concerns over coverage of police activity following the murder of George Floyd in Minnesota.
“Live PD” was a big hit for A&E, dominating cable TV ratings and spawning several spinoffs, including “Live PD: Wanted”, “Live PD: Police Patrol”, “Live PD Presents: PD Cam”.
Big Fish Entertainment, which was behind “Live PD,” will produce the new show through Half Moon Pictures, its new arm dedicated to crime and investigative series. Dan Abrams, who hosted “Live PD,” will also anchor the new show. Abrams is CEO/founder of Abrams Media, host of “Dan Abrams Live” on NewsNation and chief legal analyst at ABC News.
Joining Abrams is the retired police sergeant from Tulsa. Sean “Sticks” Larkin and Deputy Sheriff Curtis Wilson, division commander of the Richland County Sheriff’s Department in Columbia, SC
“Law enforcement is front and center in the national conversation, and our hope is that showing the work of officers in a live format will provide viewers with direct access to the work they do,” Abrams said. “I am thrilled that our team is finally back and excited that Reelz has committed to making this show front and center for his network.”
Reelz CEO Stan E. Hubbard said he believed the show would serve as “the cornerstone of our commitment to commissioning must-see, brand-defining original programming. With the collective talent pooled together, we know that we are working with the best and most experienced team in existence to produce this type of series and together we will do everything in our power to earn the trust and loyalty of viewers excited about this show.”
Switching from A&E to Reelz is a step down for the franchise in terms of reach, though. “Live PD” was a top show on A&E, but even without the series, A&E was in the top 30 networks last year. Reelz, meanwhile, ranked 89th among all networks last year, according to Variety’s annual ranking. Reelz is primarily known for low-budget, headline-grabbing celebrity scandal shows.
Reelz said several platforms were interested in the new series, but Reelz offered “a significant episode guarantee”. Half Moon Pictures will share the international rights and other rights to the show with Reelz and will serve as the distributor for those rights in the future.
Police departments and sheriff’s offices featured on “On Patrol” Live will be announced in the coming weeks.
Even before the national conversation about police brutality took center stage, “Live PD” was mired in controversy. It was revealed that a “Live PD” film crew last year filmed the death of a black man in custody by Austin police – and that the video was destroyed. According to the Austin American-Statesman, Javier Ambler died in March 2019 while being arrested by Williamson County Sheriff’s Deputies in connection with a traffic violation.
“This is a critical moment in our nation’s history and we have made the decision to discontinue production of Live PD,” A&E said in a statement at the time. “Going forward, we will determine if there is a clear path to tell the stories of the community and the police officers whose role it is to serve them. And with that, we will meet with community and civil rights leaders as well as police departments.”
Simultaneously with A&E releasing “Live PD”, ViacomCBS severed ties with Big Fish Entertainment, the MGM company behind A&E’s recently canceled “Live PD”. A&E is not a ViacomCBS network, but ViacomCBS has done Big Fish shows including VH1’s “Cartel Crew”, “Black Ink Crew”, “Black Ink Crew: Chicago”, “Love & Hip Hop Miami”, “Love & Hip Hop: New York” and “Love & Hip Hop Atlanta”.
On its release, “On Patrol: Live” sought to address some concerns, aiming to showcase elements like “Citizen Ride-Alongs,” which will give locals a chance to ride; “Citizens On-Set” will invite community members to the studio as guests, where they can share their experiences and observations and comment on the night’s live activities.
The executive producers of “On Patrol: Live” are John Zito, Paul Gordon, Joe Venafro and Dan Abrams.