A&E gangs up on L.A. sheriffs

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A&E Network has ordered a half-hour unscripted pilot revolving around the elite gang unit of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department.

The project, tentatively titled "L.A. Gang Unit," follows the highly experienced officers of the department's Gang Task Force who work in South Los Angeles. It's being produced by 44 Blue Prods., with company president and co-owner Rasha Drach-kovitch serving as executive producer with actor-producer Shane Conrad, son of actor Robert Conrad.

Robert Sharenow, who is executive producing for A&E with Laura Fleury, said the project offers "unprecedented access" to the LASD.

"It really gives you insight into a previously unseen world and a look at just how complicated and challenging this branch of law is," Sharenow said, adding that the project would "fit perfectly with our crime and justice franchise."

Drachkovitch said 44 Blue sparked to the project when Shane Conrad, a reserve deputy sheriff, approached the company with the idea. He noted the difficulty in securing the LASD's consent to allow cameras to follow officers around.

"They'd never been filmed before and were leery about the cameras going into these places, so it's extremely exciting to be given this opportunity to show what it's really like to work in one of the most dangerous beats in Los Angeles, if not the country," he said, adding that cameras already have been shooting for two months. "It's pretty provocative and dramatic footage."

Conrad had been trying to secure access as early as spring 2006, around the time that producer Scott Sternberg also was trying to get permission to shoot the L.A. Sheriff's Academy for his own TV project; Conrad's original project was known as "The Assignment," designed to follow the daily activities of detectives and officers. Both producers were successful; Sternberg's show, "The Academy," went to Fox Reality and MyNetworkTV.

44 Blue also has produced A&E's "Find and Design," "Caesars 24/7" and "Biography." It's also no stranger to crime and justice programming; other credits include MSNBC's "Lockup" and Court TV's "Detroit SWAT."

44 Blue is repped by WMA; Conrad is managed by ROAR.
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