Just think of it as the amazing race to find weapons of mass destruction. The Department of Defense has contracted with reality TV producer Bertram van Munster (producer of CBS's The Amazing Race, and ABC's Profiles from the Front Lines) to film Operation Iraqi Freedom and the transition to what DOD hopes is democracy.
Van Munster and a crew of six have been filming in Iraq for the past three weeks and have footage that likely will be used in Defense Department briefings as well as for archival purposes, he says. The producer and crew are basically functioning as independent contractors for the government. "They have given us a mandate for what to do," he says. "We hand them the tapes. We don't edit anything."
Van Munster was first approached by Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs Torie Clarke about undertaking the two-month assignment. His ABC series, Profiles from the Front Lines,
was a look at soldiers in Afghanistan but the network discontinued it when the Iraq situation heated up.
The producer says he may try to put together a TV series of his own from the footage. "I definitely have plans. If the quality of the material is such that we can make a coherent story out of it, I would definitely try to go the John Huston, Frank Capra route," a reference to the famed filmmakers who were enlisted by the government to help chronicle World War II.
While all the film remains the property of DOD, van Munster believes he will also be able to use the footage.