The Arts & Entertainment Network docuseries featuring Highland Park High School is expected to begin airing sometime in early 2018.
After announcing in early September that “Undercover High” would begin airing Oct. 10, the network announced less than a week before its premiere that the show, shot on location at the school in East Topeka this past spring, was indefinitely postponed because of scheduling changes. District officials said there were also post-production issues.
Jamie Yandolino, a spokeswoman for A&E, didn’t respond to several requests for information about when the early 2018 air date had been announced for the 12-episode series. Jason Tolbert, a spokesman for Lucky8 and Learning Tree Productions, the New York-based companies that produced the series, also didn’t return a phone call asking for comment.
Yandolino said in October that A&E has postponed other show premieres within days of their scheduled start dates. She didn’t specify how long the network had been talking about postponing the premiere of “Undercover High,” but the decision became official on Oct. 3.
Misty Kruger, director of communications for Topeka Unified School District 501, said she didn’t know when A&E made the decision to air the docuseries in early 2018.
“I never had that conversation with A&E,” she said. “What we knew, that when it got postponed in October, that it was their hope it would air in early 2018. Beyond that, we really haven’t had a whole lot of communication with A&E up to this point as they’ve been working through that process.”
Kruger said she didn’t have a more specific time frame as to when “Undercover High” would begin airing but said it was her understanding that networks often premiere new shows in January as a standard practice.
According to an addendum to the access agreement approved by the Topeka USD 501 board of education, Learning Tree Productions was to deliver and set up several pieces of video production equipment in the district by Oct. 1. That equipment includes three camera kits, three editing systems, two studio flat-panel LED light systems and “appropriate sound equipment.”
Kruger said the equipment hasn’t yet been delivered, and no one from Learning Tree has presented a two-day master class on video production during the fall 2017 semester that was another aspect of the addendum.
Through A&E, Lucky8 donated more than $650,000 to the Topeka Public Schools Foundation for postsecondary scholarships for Highland Park graduates. Kruger said postponement of the series hasn’t affected that donation.
A&E has described “Undercover High” as “a gripping new docuseries” that follows seven people who embedded themselves for a semester at Highland Park, including “a former bully, victims of bullying, a teen mom, a youth motivational speaker, a set of siblings and a teen minister.”
“From bullying and the pervasiveness of social media to the struggle to excel in the classroom and navigate evolving social standards, participants discover the challenges and complexities, both new and familiar, facing today’s teens,” according to A&E’s website.
Contact reporter Angela Deines at (785) 295-1143 or @AngelaDeines on Twitter.