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ABC scripted cop show dumps docu style in wake of death during reality-show taping

Disney-owned ABC's new scripted cop drama "Detroit 1-8-7" dropped its "documentary" conceit as a result of the shooting death of a Detroit child during a police raid being recorded by cameras for a reality series on a Disney co-owned cable network.

In the wake of 7-year-old Aiyana Jones's death, some family members, and attorneys, suggested cops were playing to the camera crew during the raid.

"The main reason ...that was pretty real and pretty scary stuff," "Detroit 1-8-7" executive producer Jason Richman told TV critics about the May shooting death, when asked why the format on his fictional, scripted drama series had been changed.

"The city was very concerned about that....[Detroit authorities] patently said that no documentary film crews could follow these police around" in the wake of the shooting," Richman continued, adding, "We were sensitive to their concerns."

"The credibility of the premise at that point was undermined," chimed in "Detroit 1-8-7" exec producer David Zabel.

The May 16 incident occurred when a camera crew for A&E reality show "The First 48" was outside a home being raided by Detroit homicide detectives. The homicide cops, joined by an "elite Special Response Team," were looking for the suspect in the shooting death of a 17-year-old high school student not far from Aiyana's home.

Police claimed officers threw a non-lethal flash grenade through the first-floor window of the two-family home and that when an officer ran into the girl's grandmother, his gun discharged, accidentally killing the child. Critics of the cops, however, said they had video showing an offer lobbing the grenade and then shooting into the house; they've suggestd the cops were playing to the TV cameras.

"The implication was that they were perhaps amping it up a little bit for the cameras," Zabel told TV critics Sunday.

"Jason and I happened to be [in Detroit] at the time, and the confusion over what our show was, what our show was going to be, what our show wanted to be, was only exacerbated by the fact that [death] had occurred."

A&E is jointly owned by Disney, NBC Universal, and Hearst.

By Lisa de Moraes  |  August 1, 2010; 5:09 PM ET
Categories:  Summer TV Press Tour 2010  
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Lisa - check your spelling. e.g. Offer for officer, etc. Is "conceit" in the lead correct? I think you mean "concept."

None the less, with some decoding, filling in the blanks, the story comes through.

Delete this comment when you fix the typos.

Posted by: pptcmember | August 1, 2010 6:40 PM | Report abuse

pptcmember, you obviously don't know what a conceit is.

Posted by: bendan2000 | August 1, 2010 8:10 PM | Report abuse

Joe Sixpack has no earthly idea that the Detroit PD has ended its policy of cooperating with documentary makers (i.e. "playing to the cameras"), so the pretext that the "credibility of the premise was compromised" is risible.

But, if the show films in Detroit, it seems likely that the producers wanted to avoid being harassed by the Detroit PD for making it *appear* as if the cops were still cooperating.

Sadly, none of the players in this story -- not the police, not the producers -- appear to be acting out of any noble or enlightened motive. Most particularly disappointing, the producers of such police-brutality-as-entertainment programs seem to willfully ignore their role in legitimizing the increased aggressiveness and outright lawlessness of the American police culture.

Posted by: kcx7 | August 1, 2010 8:58 PM | Report abuse

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