Having canceled “Live P.D.” in 2020, A&E is returning to the live docu-reality TV space — but this time, the network is trading order for law. A&E is set to launch “Court Night Live,” from former “Live PD” producers Big Fish Entertainment, next Wednesday, August 10 at 9 p.m. ET.
“Court Night Live” will operate under a similar format to “Live PD,” featuring hosts as they shift from multiple cities to watch live action as it takes place — but this time via “pop-up courtrooms” in Philadelphia, Tampa, and Chicago. The show is hosted by Vinnie Politan and TV vet Judge Greg Mathis, while retired Judge Vonda Evans will provide analysis.
Much like pre-taped daytime court shows, “Court Night Live” doesn’t take place in actual courtrooms, but feature people are taking their cases out of traditional courtrooms to be resolved on the show. Politan, Mathis, and Evans will provide context to the civil cases, while viewers can chime in via text message.
According to A&E, “as civil court cases became backed up over the last few years, pending cases have jumped over 30% with some people waiting over a year to get to trial. On top of that, many Americans have been stuck at home with their family and neighbors, racking up more and more grievances that make it harder than ever to sort through them.”
Politan’s credits include serving as lead anchor for Court TV; besides covering trials and the justice system as a journalist, he’s also a licensed attorney who has worked as a New Jersey prosecutor in New Jersey and later in private practice focusing on commercial litigation, labor law and intellectual properties.
Mathis, a former judge for the Michigan 36th District Court, won two Emmys as host of “Judge Mathis.” He is also chairman for Jesse Jackson’s PUSH Excel and previously served as a national board member of the NAACP and the Morehouse School of Medicine. Evans was a Wayne County Circuit Court Judge for 22 years; she now heads her own law firm handling business disputes, insurance claims, police misconduct, and medical malpractice cases.
“’Court Night Live’ will combine the inherent drama of live civil court proceedings with context and expert legal analysis, elevating the traditional court shows that have been a staple of the television landscape for decades,” said Elaine Frontain Bryant, exec VP and head of programming for A&E. “‘Court Night Live’ gives viewers a chance to experience public trials live in the virtual courtroom gallery on air.”
Dan Cesareo, Lucilla D’Agostino and John Zito are exec producers for Big Fish Entertainment. Bryant, Shelly Tatro, and Sean Gottlieb are EPs for A&E. A+E Networks holds worldwide distribution rights for “Court Night Live.”
A&E pulled the plug on “Live PD” in 2020 in the wake of ongoing protests against police brutality and concerns over coverage of police activity following the killing of George Floyd in Minnesota. “Live PD” was a juggernaut for A&E, dominating cable ratings and spawning multiple spinoffs, including “Live PD: Wanted,” “Live PD: Police Patrol,” “Live PD Presents: PD Cam.” Reelz and Big Fish recently revived the format, but under a new title: “On Patrol: Live.” “Live PD” also spawned the spinoff show “Live Rescue,” which last aired in early 2021.
Here’s a first look at “Court Night Live”: