Digital Version of March/April 2015
Digital Version of January/February 2015 Print Edition
Off the Grid reality TV depicts real-world surveillance technologies
Off the Grid
Neither Hochberg nor Ebersol were willing to reveal to Government Security News whether Dan and Scott managed to elude their pursuers, “escape” from Los Angeles, and win the million dollar prize. Readers of this article, and viewers nationwide, are invited to watch the debut broadcast on December 8 to find out for themselves, said the producers.
They did acknowledge that the magnitude of the potential prize went a long way in concentrating their minds. “With a million dollars on the line,” said Hochberg, “we paid very close attention to every detail of the program.”
This certainly wasn’t the producers’ first foray into high-visibility TV programming. Ebersol served as co-creator and executive producer of an earlier terrorist-tracking reality news program called “The Wanted,” which was broadcast by NBC. That show, which attempted to track down and capture real-world terrorists, in conjunction with official government agencies, drew upon the expertise of several foreign intelligence services, said Ebersol, and developed cutting-edge shooting techniques which employed Panasonic and Sony broadcast cameras to shoot in High Definition, even when lighting conditions were extremely challenging.
Hochberg served as a producer of the hit show, “The Apprentice,” for three seasons and helped to develop “The Contender,” a boxing reality show, “which was sold for the highest price of any unscripted program to date,” says a news release issued by THE Company on Nov. 16.
Even with their strong backgrounds, Hochberg and Ebersol encountered obstacles in shooting Off the Grid that they couldn’t overcome. They had access to some world-class technologies that they would have loved to include in the program, but were prevented from doing so in some circumstances. For example, U.S. laws prevented them from flying UAVs over a U.S. city, and other restrictions prevented them from showing off state-of-the-art “heartbeat recognition” technologies in their 60-minute program.
As the cat-and-mouse duel unfolded, recalled Hochberg, Dan and Scott came to recognize first-hand the ongoing battle between privacy and security. “They got a clear picture of just how exposed they were,” said Hochberg.
Even so, the two producers – who would like to produce additional episodes of Off the Grid in other large cities in the future – say they took pains to take no overt position on the philosophical question of privacy versus security. To see the trailer for the debut program, click here.
“We shine a light on these different worlds,” Hochberg told GSN, "but we remain non-opinionated. We’re simply showing the world we live in.”