DeSanto joins reality brigade

Producer pacts with 44 Blue for 'Declassified'

“Transformers” producer Tom DeSanto is getting into the reality TV biz, pacting with 44 Blue Prods. to develop a military-themed docudrama dubbed “Declassified.”

Skein would document real-life stories of heroism by members of U.S. special operations forces. The war in Iraq will be one focus, but the show will also explore foiled terrorist plots in other parts of the world.

“It’s like a real-life ’24,’ ” DeSanto told Daily Variety. “We want to use big re-creations and high-tech graphics, along with first-hand accounts, to get the drama across.”

Rasha Drachkovitch, prexy of 44 Blue, said the goal is to make the show as cinematic as possible. “Every episode will be a mini-event, with all the drama and intensity of a major motion picture,” he said. “These are blockbuster stories, stories that would be like ‘Saving Private Ryan’ or ‘Under Siege.’ ”

DeSanto came up with the concept for “Declassified” after talking to an ex-Navy SEAL friend about various missions. He then hooked up with 44 Blue, which had experience with the docudrama format via its Emmy-nominated History Channel skein “The True Story of Black Hawk Down.”

“Declassified” is the first nonfiction project for DeSanto, and his first foray in any sort of TV project since 2001, when he began developing Sci Fi’s “Battlestar Galactica” (he’s no longer creatively involved with the skein). His credits also include the first two “X-Men” movies.

As for 44 Blue, it’s produced more than 500 hours of programming for a slew of nets including CBS, A&E, ESPN, Discovery and TLC. Credits include “Detroit SWAT,” “Split Ends,” “Lockup” and “City in Fear.”

DeSanto and Drachkovitch will exec produce “Declassified,” with Jim Snider and Lew Knopp aboard as co-exec producers. Project will be pitched to networks in the next few weeks.

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