As though the embattled agency hasn't received enough media exposure lately, a new documentary series starring the men and women of the Philadelphia Parking Authority will begin running on the A&E network early next year.
But unlike recent headlines that have questioned payroll padding and high executive salaries at the agency, A&E's 20-episode
series will focus on the authority's rank and file, and their charged encounters with an often irritated public.
"Unexpectedly, it's a very humanizing portrait of blue-collar heroes trying to do a very difficult job," said Robert Sharenow, an A&E Network senior vice president.
The series won't touch on the governor's calls for a comprehensive performance audit of the agency, nor will it include the perspective of parents of public school students who have criticized the authority's financial performance.
"I didn't even know it was going on," Sharenow said of the recent controversies involving the authority.
Rather, the series is likely to resemble a one-hour minidocumentary from 2001. That single show - also called
- ran on A&E and was the inspiration for the new series, Sharenow said.
The Parking Authority uses the 2001 show in training sessions for new employees, and for good reason. Though some authority employees featured in the documentary exercise remarkable restraint, others let the goading of just-ticketed drivers get to them.
In one memorable scene, a team of booters applies a clamp to a vehicle despite the physical intervention of a female driver. Eventually the booters fend her off and get the clamp on, only to watch the woman drive off with the clamp intact - doing serious damage to her vehicle in the process.
"It's pretty funny," Sharenow said of the new series. "It's the lighter side of documentary drama."
Parking Authority spokeswoman Linda Miller said the agency was not paid for its role in the series.