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AMC plans real-life Don Draper, homeland security reality shows

April 15, 2011 |  4:58 pm

Will we get to meet the real-life Don Draper?

Cable network AMC, home to critically lauded dramas "Mad Men," "The Walking Dead" and "Breaking Bad," plans to launch a pair of reality shows exploring the high-pressure world of advertising and the behind-the-scenes drama at the Department of Homeland Security.

"The Pitch," about the creative process at ad agencies, and "Inside DHS," an veil-lifting look at the government division that fights terrorism, will be the network's first two unscripted shows. A third, a docu-series about renowned boxing trainer Freddie Roach, is still in development.

Network executives have said they want to broaden the scope of programming at AMC, which was known not so long ago as the home of old black-and-white movies and little else. "Breaking Bad" and "Mad Men" have won Emmys and accolades, and "The Walking Dead" broke ratings records for the channel.

In keeping with the channel's DNA, Joel Stillerman, AMC's senior vice president of original programming, said executives look to classic movie genres for inspiration on what kind of original content to pursue.

Advertising, which fuels the Emmy-winning "Mad Men," has been fertile territory for years, as have the inner workings of high-profile government divisions.

The first of the shows, "Inside DHS," comes from Pilgrim Films & Television's Craig Piligian ("The Ultimate Fighter," "My Fair Wedding"). Stillerman describes the series, airing in the fall, as "the real story of the day-to-day battle to keep us safe, prepared and resilient."

It will follow DHS investigators from multiple points of view, tracking counterterrorism, border security and immigration enforcement. U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano will be featured in at least some of the episodes. The White House had to greenlight DHS' involvement in the show, which Piligian said will give "a first-time comprehensive look into the tactical workings" of this unit.

Next year, with an airdate yet to be determined, "The Pitch" will unfold, giving a fly-on-the-wall perspective of ad agencies and their quest to create the next iconic tagline.

"We don't have to look any further than the frenzy around the Super Bowl -- or for that matter the passion for advertising in and around our own 'Mad Men' -- to understand how much advertising matters in our culture," Stillerman said.

Eli Holzman and Stephen Lambert from Studio Lambert, producers of "Undercover Boss" and "Project Runway," are executive producers of "The Pitch."

 -- T.L. Stanley

 

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