May 22, 2013 10:31am PT by Kimberly Nordyke
Ricky Schroder, U.S. Army Team for New Unscripted Series (Exclusive)
Ricky Schroder and his production company have teamed up with the U.S. Army to produce an unscripted series aimed at educating and informing Americans about Army life and potential military careers.
Starting Strong -- a 10-week series directed, narrated and produced by Schroder through his Ricky Schroder Productions -- is set to debut June 2 in 16 Fox affiliate markets, The Hollywood Reporter has learned exclusively. Four additional episodes will air online.
The half-hour show intends to introduce viewers to the many aspects of a soldier's life as well as the Army's more than 150 different military occupational specialties (MOS). Starting Strong, which was shot at Army installations such as Ft. Bragg and Joint Base Lewis McChord, is being described as the "first of its kind" in allowing Army prospects to tell their personal stories and experiences as potential soldiers.
"This is sort of new for the Army to give this behind-the-scenes, open-door look at what it means to live, eat and breathe Army life," Schroder tells THR. "Viewers are going to see real, young men and women getting real experience in living, eating and breathing Army culture and jobs."
The project is somewhat personal for Schroder, who notes that he's a longtime military supporter and has family members who have served in various branches. He grew up hearing stories from his grandfathers, who served in the Army and Navy.
"I grew up with a feeling that these men were heroes," he says, noting that he became involved after meeting with Mark Davis, deputy assistant secretary of the Army for marketing, who shared the idea of a behind-the-scenes project that would give an inside look at Army life beyond what could be shown in a 30-second commercial. "The opportunity to use my creative skills and tell stories about the American Army seemed like a perfect fit."
Starting Strong will follow military candidates as they work to meet the challenges of their chosen MOS and ends with their decision to join the Army or remain a civilian. Schroder says that, in some cases, the decision turns out to be an emotional one.
"Sometimes what the families want the young man or woman to do is different than what they end up doing," he says. "And the Army's standards are higher than ever, so in some cases, the Army may not want you because you are just not up to standards. You will see some of that, but it will be handled in a very delicate and gentle way."
Schroder adds that working with the Army over the course of a year left a big impression on him.
"They are like a large family, and they really do care about and look out for each other," he says. "[The senior leaders] care about so much about their young soldiers and want to bring every one of them home."