Court Battle Live: ‘Live PD’ Producers & Reelz Sued By A&E Over ‘On Patrol: Live’; Plaintiff Calls New Show “Brazen Theft”

Court Battle Live: ‘Live PD’ Producers & Reelz Sued By A&E Over ‘On Patrol: Live’; Plaintiff Calls New Show “Brazen Theft”

August 30, 2022

More than two years after pulling the plug on Live PD, A&E now wants to lock up and throw away the key on revival series On Patrol: Live ASAP.

“Without any authorization from AETN, Big Fish [the show’s former producer] created a clone of Live PD featuring the same primary hosts, content, format, segments, and more, and sold that virtually identical show to Reelz, a cable network seeking its first breakout hit, which then aired the show over AETN’s repeated and vociferous objections,” exclaims a blistering copyright-infringement complaint filed today in federal court by A&E Television Networks against producers MGM-owned Big Fish, Half Moon Pictures and Reelz itself (read it here).

Appealing to forthcoming judges and juries, A&E is seeking a variety of damages and profits out of this action. Perhaps even more penalizing, the plaintiff also desires to see On Patrol: Live and any other Live PD derivative shut down with a permanent injunction from the court.

The Dan Abrams-hosted Live PD was one of the highest-rated series on cable when it was canceled in June 2020, in the aftermath of George Floyd’s killing that year and a widespread response to police violence and brutality. The straw that broke the channel’s back was the horrible revelation that same year that video allegedly captured by the Live PD crew of the 2019 death of Javier Ambler during a police stop had been destroyed.

Looking for a new home, Big Fish and gang went to Reelz and, despite a few technical burps, gave the outlet its biggest hit ever. But now it seems there’s a price to pay.

“Defendants intentionally have confused the public into believing that On Patrol: Live is Live PD and is associated with AETN’s brand,” the graphic-heavy and jury trial-seeking document Tuesday from NYC firm Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP says. “Defendants and Live PD’s former principals openly and repeatedly have referred to Live PD as ‘returning’ and ‘coming back’ on Reelz. “These public statements were not gaffes or misstatements; they were part and parcel of Defendants’ bad-faith strategy of capitalizing on AETN’s reputation, trading on AETN’s goodwill, and passing off On Patrol: Live as the same product as Live PD. The intended substantial actual confusion among the public has resulted and is documented.”

The complaint uses terms such as “brazen theft” and “flagrant violation” to make the plaintiff’s point.

Perhaps adding to a lesser confusion is the fact that A&E itself is in business with Big Fish right now on Court Night Live. Having debuted on August 10 on the outlet, the show fronted by Vinnie Politan, Judge Greg Mathis and Judge Vonda Evans “appears to be the network’s spiritual successor to live cops series,” to quote my Deadline colleague Peter White.

As for On Patrol: Live and this lawsuit, Deadline has reached out to Reelz for a response; we will update if and when we hear from them. Until then, watch your six.

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A&E Sues ‘Live PD’ Producers & Reelz Over ‘On Patrol: Live’, Calling Show “Brazen Theft”

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