Spec to target teens
With the updated “Scared Straight! 20 Years Later” set to preem Thursday on UPN, Arnold Shapiro Prods. is at work on a new installment of the Oscar-winning 1978 docu, “Scared Straight! ’99,” to bow on MTV in July.The hourlong spec will follow 12 teenage boys — judged by school counselors to be at risk of running afoul of the law — through a daylong, in-your-face encounter with prison life and convicts at New Jersey’s East Jersey State Prison, known at the time of the original spec as Rahway State Prison. Shapiro will shoot follow-up segs with the boys and their parents in an effort to gauge whether the prison experience left a lasting impression. The prison sequences were shot last month; the reaction segs will be done in June. MTV is using the spec to kick off an anti-violence public service campaign aimed at teenagers. “I was shocked when MTV called and said they wanted to do this, but by being on MTV, we’ll reach a whole new generation of kids who might not watch the (UPN) retrospective,” Shapiro noted. Shapiro’s indie production company has a host of specs set to bow this year, including two more installments of the syndie “Teen Files” issue-oriented specs for Paramount. In May, the Discovery Channel cabler will bow Shapiro’s three-hour primetime spec “Inside America’s Military Academies,” while the Learning Channel unveils the two-hour “Countdown 100: The Greatest Achievements of the 20th Century” in December.