ViacomCBS’s Entertainment and Youth Group has announced that it is no longer working with Big Fish Entertainment, producers of several series in the ViacomCBS cable net roster, as well as the recently canceled A&E hit Live PD.
The New York-headquartered prodco, owned by MGM, was the company behind such series as Black Ink Crew for VH1 and recently became the producer for that network’s Love & Hip Hop franchise from Monami Entertainment.
However, a massive series in its stable, Live PD, was canceled by A&E this week in the wake of protests across America and around the world concerning police brutality, and amid controversy concerning a report from the Austin American Statesman which revealed that Live PD cameras were rolling when a Black man died while in police custody in March of 2019. Javier Ambler was being arrested by Williamson County deputies for a traffic violation at the time. According to the Statesman, “representatives of the reality TV show” told the paper the footage has been destroyed.
The series’ host, Dan Abrams, has since appeared on CNN and Fox News discussing the cancellation and the circumstances surrounding the footage, and has posted commentary on the website for his Law and Crime Network as well as via social media.
According to a statement issued by a spokesperson for ViacomCBS: “We have decided to end our relationship with Big Fish Entertainment and will be producing our shows in house at this time. We thank Big Fish for their past contributions and wish them the best.”
While networks in the Entertainment and Youth division of ViacomCBS have fortified their in-house production ambitions and capabilities – MTV launched its MTV Studios division in 2018 – it is understood that Big Fish’s connection to Live PD prompted ViacomCBS’s decision.
The production company was also behind the recent Club MTV Presents #DanceTogether with D-Nice for MTV, and Amy Schumer Learns to Cook for Food Network, both produced during lockdown.