Sheriff Joe Arpaio, TV star? It could happen when Smile ... You're Under Arrest! premieres in December on the Fox Reality channel.
"Sheriff Joe is an absolute natural," producer Scott Satin says. "He should have his own late-night talk show. He's wonderful on camera because he's not acting. He is a very sincere person."
That sincerity will be spotlighted in the show, which was filmed last year in the Valley. The premise involves elaborate sting operations used to nab people with outstanding warrants.
"It's Punk'd meets Cops," says Satin, whose reality credits include Who Wants to Marry My=2
0Dad? and the Sci-Fi Channel's popular Who Wants to Be a Superhero?, in which contestants are tested in such areas and bravery and courage.
The latter series helped inspire his latest offering.
"After that show was done, I was thinking, 'How can I do this for real?' " he says. "That's how it came to be."
The producers scoped out different law-enforcement agencies around the country before settling on the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office. The reason?
"Sheriff Joe was fantastic," Satin says. "I knew he was our guy, and I hoped he would help us and agree to let us help him."
Lisa Allen, spokeswoman for the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office, says it wasn't a snap decision to agree to participate.
"A lot of thought and a lot of meetings went into it," she says. "It was a unique marriage between law enforcement and entertainment, and we had to make sure it was right."
So far, it looks like a successful marriage: About 400 warrants were cleared through the show. The show targeted people who had warrants issued for their arrests after failing to show up for court dates.
"That's what we hope people take from the show," Satin says. "If=2
0you have a court date, don't blow it off. That will get you in trouble."
Of course, the real entertainment comes in watching the felons get busted. In one sequence, a felon believes he is modeling Halloween costumes for a fashion show. Of course, one of the outfits consists of a prisoner's black-and-white stripes.
In another segment, lucky criminals think they are touring the set of a sequel to The Green Mile. The film's name: The Lime Green Mile.
Obviously, the show doesn't make a case for Arizona having the brightest law-breakers.
"You may have smart crooks, but we have really smart producers," Satin cracks.
Not only are our crooks gullible, they also love the spotlight. Every person caught in a sting signed a waiver to appear on TV.
"It's the Andy Warhol phenomenon," Allen says. "A lot of these guys thinking being on TV is a cool thing."
At this point, three episodes have been filmed. They will air at 5 p.m. Saturdays beginning Dec. 27. After that? Satin says the plan is to produce more shows if ratings warrant (pun intended).
"Everybody learned a lot from the experience," Allen says. "We're entertaining the thou
ght (of doing more), but we haven't committed to anything yet."
Satin hopes that will change.
"I love Arizona and I love Sheriff Joe and I can't wait to come back and do more," Satin says, though he knows of one other element needed to keep the show in the desert.
Namely, that our criminal element doesn't wise up.
"Hopefully, a lot of people with warrants in Arizona don't have cable."
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Sheriff Arpaio gets 'real'
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