Producers Jerry Bruckheimer (“Black Hawk Down”) and Bertram van Munster (“The Amazing Race”) are teaming up to turn the war on terrorism into a weekly reality series for ABC.
The Warner Bros. TV-produced “Profiles From the Front Line,” which could end up on the air as soon as this summer, will follow U.S. troops as they combat terror in global hot spots such as Afghanistan, the Philippines and South America. ABC has given the docudrama series a 13-episode commitment.
In addition, the Pentagon has given its approval to the “Front Line” concept and will be cooperating with the project, allowing wide access to producers.
Bruckheimer, van Munster and Bruckheimer Films’ Jonathan Littman will exec produce in association with WBTV, where Bruckheimer has an overall deal. Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer David Hume Kennerly is also on board as a co-exec producer.
Van Munster — who helped pioneer the modern reality genre with “Cops” — said he came up with the idea for “Profiles” in the weeks following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. He immediately pitched his idea to Bruckheimer, who produces “The Amazing Race” with van Munster. Bruckheimer quickly jumped on board.
“His relationship with the military got the ball rolling,” van Munster said, noting that Bruckheimer had the Pentagon’s cooperation during the filming of “Black Hawk Down.”
According van Munster, vice prexy Dick Cheney and defense chief Donald Rumsfeld signed off on the project without reservation.
“They haven’t given me any restrictions as of yet; they’re very enthusiastic about the thing,” van Munster said. “Obviously we’re going to have a pro-military, pro-American stance. We’re not going to criticize.”
Andrea Wong, ABC Entertainment senior VP for reality and specs, said the net bought the concept as soon as it heard the pitch.
“We’ve been given complete access to everything, and we couldn’t pass up that opportunity,” she said. “We are going to bring to viewers the stories of the real men and women, the heroes, who are fighting the war on terror. And I can’t think of a better team to do that than Jerry, Bert and David.”
Littman said the access being provided by the Pentagon will give viewers an unprecedented look at the lives of soldiers.
“We want to put names to the faces you see on TV, sort of what ‘Cops’ did for cops,” he said.
While “Front Line” will likely bow this summer, it’s possible ABC could hold the series for fall — much as CBS decided to delay the original “Amazing Race” after seeing early content from the skein.
Van Munster and Bruckheimer, who are both repped by CAA, are in pre-production on “Profiles,” and hope to deploy cameras in a few weeks. “Profiles” will focus on a handful of personnel from all walks of military life; the casting process has just begun.
“We want to go into their lives in real time and follow specific people,” van Munster said. “We will cast our cast of characters from all levels of the military. It is a reality show. It has to be entertaining, dramatic, and the characters in this have to be appropriate.”
Littman said that in success, “Front Line” could continue for years.
“We’re in a real war, and in a war that’s not going to end tomorrow,” he said. “There’s no end date in our mind.”