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ABC orders Arnold Shapiro-helmed 'Border Security USA' reality series


By Christopher Rocchio, 05/30/2008 

ABC is planning on giving viewers a glimpse of what it's like to patrol America's borders.

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ABC has ordered Border Security USA, a new reality series executive produced by former Big Brother producer Arnold Shapiro that will focus on the work of various border protection agencies in their effort to stop illegal smuggling and immigration, The Hollywood Reporter reported Wednesday.

"We're showing everyday heroes who are risking their lives to protect us," Shapiro told The Reporter. "Every mode of transportation to get into the country, we have covered."

Border Security USA will be shot on location throughout the country and is being billed as the first multi-episode series to be filmed in cooperation with numerous government agencies, including the Department of Homeland Security, the Transportation Security Administration, U.S. Coast Guard, United States Citizenship & Immigration Services, the Secret Service, Customs & Border Protection and Immigration & Customs Enforcement, according to The Reporter.

"They want people to know how diligent they are," Shapiro told The Reporter. "You hear about every problem that the Department of Homeland Security is having; you never hear about what they're doing that's good."

Shapiro added Border Security USA will show viewers "the other side of the story."

"I love investigative journalism, but that's not what we're doing," he explained to The Reporter. "This show is heartening. It makes you feel good about these people who are doing their best to protect us."

While Border Security USA might appear to be very similar to Fox's long-running Cops reality series, Shapiro said that's not quite accurate.

"It has more diversity than Cops, and people really learn a lot from watching this," he told The Reporter. "You see a lot of people who are not admitted into the country, and you learn why. You will become a more knowledgeable traveler in terms of crossing the border."

Each Border Security USA episode will go back and forth between 10 different stories filmed across the country and including various law enforcement agents and crimes.  Shapiro told The Reporter that due to the amount of time spent looking for criminal activity, he estimates 100 minutes of footage was filmed for every minute used on the show. 

"We haven't been there with a camera when an actual terrorist has been caught, but we've seen a few people not admitted because they're on watch lists. Nobody wants to be the officer who lets in the next terrorist," he told The Reporter.  "That's [the agents'] No. 1 mission: to protect the country from terrorists and from terrorist materials, such as bombs."

ABC has ordered 11 hours of the import, which premiered in Australia in 2004 under the title Border Security: Australia's Front Line.  It is currently in the midst of its third season.

ABC bought the format's rights and subsequently tapped Shapiro to helm the U.S. version, according to The Reporter. ABC plans to debut Border Security USA in the fall.

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