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. Just like “Live PD,” the show will air live, twice a week (on Friday and Saturday nights from 9 p.m. to midnight).
The news comes two years after A&E pulled the plug on “Live PD,” in the wake of ongoing protests against police brutality and concerns over coverage of police activity following the killing of George Floyd in Minnesota.
“Live PD” was a juggernaut for A&E, dominating cable ratings and spawning multiple 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 via Half Moon Pictures, its new arm devoted to crime and investigative series. Dan Abrams, who hosted “Live PD,” will anchor the new show as well. Abrams is CEO/founder of Abrams Media, host of “Dan Abrams Live” on NewsNation and chief legal analyst for ABC News.
Joining Abrams is retired Tulsa Police Sgt. Sean “Sticks” Larkin and Deputy Sheriff Curtis Wilson, Division Commander with the Richland County Sheriff’s Department in Columbia, S.C.
“Law enforcement is front and center in the national discussion, and our hope is that showing the work of police officers in a live format will provide viewers with direct access to the work they do,” Abrams said. “I’m thrilled our team is finally back together and excited that Reelz has committed to making this show front and center on their network.”
Reelz CEO Stan E. Hubbard said he believed the show would serve as “the cornerstone of our commitment to commissioning brand-defining, must-see original programming. With the collective talent assembled, we know we are working with the best, most experienced team there is to produce this type of series and together we will do everything in our power to earn the trust and loyalty of viewers excited for this show.”
Moving from A&E to Reelz is a step down for the franchise in terms of reach, however. “Live PD” was a top-rated show on A&E, but even without the series, A&E was a top 30 network last year. Reelz, on the other hsnd, was 89th place among all networks last year, according to Variety’s annual ranker. Reelz is mostly known for low-budget ripped-from-the-headlines celebrity scandal programs.
Reelz said a number of platforms were interested in the new series but Reelz offered “a significant episode guarantee.” Half Moon Pictures will share international and other rights for the show with Reelz, and will serve as the distributor of those rights moving forward.
Police departments and Sheriff’s offices featured on “On Patrol” Live” will be announced in the coming weeks.
Even before the national conversation on police brutality moved front and center, “Live P.D.” had been embroiled in controversy. It had been revealed that a camera crew from “Live PD” last year filmed the death of a Black man in custody by Austin law enforcement — and that the video had been 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 time in our nation’s history and we have made the decision to cease production on Live PD,” A&E said in a statement at the time. “Going forward, we will determine if there is a clear pathway to tell the stories of both the community and the police officers whose role it is to serve them. And with that, we will be meeting with community and civil rights leaders as well as police departments.”
Simultaneously with A&E dropping “Live PD,” ViacomCBS cut ties with Big Fish Entertainment, the MGM-owned shingle behind A&E’s recently canceled “Live PD.” A&E is not a ViacomCBS network, but ViacomCBS did run shows from Big Fish 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.”
In its release, “On Patrol: Live” looked to address some concerns, pointing to show elements including “Citizen Ride-Alongs” which will give local residents a chance to ride along; “Citizens On-Set” will invite community members into the studio as guests where they can share their ride-along experiences and observations and comment on the night’s live activities.
“On Patrol: Live” exec producers are John Zito, Paul Gordon, Joe Venafro and Dan Abrams.