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‘Wildest Police Videos’ Ready to Hit Road Again

EDITOR’S NOTE: This story has been changed from the print version to correct the title of the show “World’s Wildest Police Videos.”

The last time a new episode of “World’s Wildest Police Videos” hit the air on Fox in 2001, the show had no real competition from Internet videos and for a time it was one of the broadcast network’s highest-rated shows.

Now, with a reboot of the show returning to cable network Spike TV on May 7, executive producer Paul Stojanovich Jr. said his North Hollywood production company, Pursuit Prods., has to distinguish the show from the hordes of police chase videos that can now easily be found online.

“Since the show was last on the air the expectations of the audience have changed,” Stojanovich said. “What you really have to do is take the level of the original series to a higher level.”

He said one way he’s done that is in-depth interviews with police officers to get the stories behind the chases. They are told from a pro-law enforcement perspective and many of the clips are provided by police units around the country. Rather than pay for the clips directly, money is donated to charitable organizations chosen by police chiefs or sheriffs. Stojanovich said the donations for this season alone are in the six figures.

Meanwhile, he said, the same major digital advances fueling YouTube and other video sites – digital cameras – are providing a boost to his show as well. With the proliferation of cameras on cop cars and helicopters, and in convenience stores over the past couple of years, there is no shortage of good material.

The 13-episode series, which will feature original host John Benell, has been in production since December and Stojanovich has spent much of the past months traveling the country to get interviews with police officers after extraordinary chases, robberies or other criminal standoffs.

The new series was ordered by Spike TV President Kevin Kay, a fan of the original version, which ran from 1998 until 2001.

With the new series, Stojanovich, 28, is keeping up the family business. His late father was a creator of the original “World’s Wildest Police Videos” as well as a “Cops” producer.

Even though new episodes were taken off the air a decade ago, the show has maintained popularity in the international markets, in the United Kingdom and Australia, for example.

That’s good news for Stojanovich’s production company, which owns the international distribution rights along with Fox Broadcasting Co., the show’s original broadcaster.

Keeping It Fresh

Just as the iTunes store comes standard on Apple Inc. devices, an L.A. company with a content library is hoping to become a standard feature on devices made by other consumer electronics companies.

The company is Film Fresh. Launched seven years ago by former studio executives, the company has a library of about 5,000 movie titles, which range from scarcely known independent and world films to Hollywood blockbusters.

The movies are already available for rent or download on many Internet-connected TVs, but Film Fresh is increasingly looking to partner with mobile device makers to become imbedded in their devices.

Film Fresh is hoping to capitalize on the fast-growing world of mobile entertainment and has recently embarked on a new round of fundraising to fuel the expansion.

“If you’re a Motorola or T-Mobile, you want a service imbedded on your phone or tablet, because your device is selling against (Apple),” said Chris Ankley, an investment banker at West L.A.’s B. Riley & Co. that is advising the company on raising capital.

Film Fresh has already had some success. The app will be preloaded on the Motorola XOOM tablets that are set to debut next month. Ankley said the company is hoping to raise about $10 million to fund a brand-building campaign and to keep the company going as it offers many first-time users free initial downloads in coming months.

Film Fresh sees its independence as the principal advantage versus rival services, even those which have far more name recognition. For example, competing service Vudu is owned by Wal-Mart Inc. of Bentonville, Ark., which Ankley said would create a channel conflict if the app were to come standard in a device sold by a separate retailer.

Big Screen Debut

The Los Angeles Film Festival unveiled its lineup last week of about 200 feature films, shorts and music videos that will screen at the event, headquartered at L.A. Live downtown.

The festival will kick off June 14 with the North American premiere of Woody Allen’s “To Rome With Love,” distributed by Sony Pictures Classics, and will conclude June 24 with the world premiere of Warner Bros. comedy “Magic Mike,” set in the world of male stripping.

The event is produced by L.A. non-profit Film Independent.

Staff reporter Jonathan Polakoff can be reached at jpolakoff@labusinessjournal.com or at (323) 549-5225, ext. 226.

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