Insiders at A&E say they believe the network had no option but to cancel “Live PD,” although losing the show will be a tremendous blow.
While there is debate over the appropriateness of scripted shows about law enforcement, the scrutiny has been more intense for reality shows. After Paramount Network canceled “Cops” and controversy raged over the death of an Austin man that was captured — and later erased — by the A&E show, executives felt they had no choice but to pull “Live PD” off the air.
The decision was made internally, although Disney/ABC Television Group and Heart Communications, which own the company through a joint venture, were consulted.
Those involved in the decision were unhappy with “Live PD” being lumped in with “Cops,” which they claimed was a very different show, and the move came a day after host Dan Abrams said on Twitter that “Live PD” would continue.
Abrams then went on CNN and Fox News interviews to express his disappointment, and he addressed the situation on his own radio show on SiriusXM. “There’s a real positive change in many ways going on in this country, but there’s also an overreaction going on. And I think that that’s what ‘Live PD’ suffered from,” he said on “The Dan Abrams Show.”
All involved bristled at the notion of “Live PD” being lumped in with “Cops,” which they argued was a very different show. And the Austin situation also came with nuance, they said, as it was utilized as part of a contentious political campaign. But it was a perfect storm that they knew wouldn’t go away.
Network sources said the cancellation of “Live PD” doesn’t mean that at some point down the road, A&E might not try to find a way to recreate a live law enforcement show in a different way and under different guidelines.
“This is a critical time in our nation’s history and we have made the decision to cease production on ‘Live PD,’” is how A&E’s statement read on Wednesday. “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.”
That hint of a potential future for the franchise has led some to speculate on social media whether “Live PD” is gone for good, but whatever does eventually make it to air won’t be “Live PD,” the network said.
“We hope to one day be able to do a show that bridges community and policing in the vein of the justice genre that we’ve done so successfully for 35 years,” an A&E Network spokesperson told Variety.
“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” and Lifetime’s “Live PD Presents: Women on Patrol.” For now, episodes of the main show and the others are still available to view on A&E’s website. With the “Live PD” franchise out of commission, A&E will also spread around more episodes of existing series such as “The First 48” and “Court Cam.”