John Langley, whose longtime television series “Cops” dominated reality TV for three decades, died of an apparent heart attack during an off-road race in Mexico.
Langley died on Saturday in Baja, Mexico, where he was competing in the Coast to Coast Ensenada-San Felipe 250, according to family spokeswoman Pam Golum.
The director, screenwriter and TV producer – best known for creating the law enforcement reality series which debuted in March 1989 and ran for 32 seasons – was 78 years old.
The 33rd season premiere of “Cops” – a show that followed police searches for suspects in locations across the country, often in wildcat chases or in unusual circumstances – was initially postponed last year due to unrest related to the police murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
Paramount Network then canceled the series entirely, but some versions of the show are still syndicated internationally.
Langley, a native of Oklahoma City, grew up in Los Angeles and served in the United States Army in the early 1960s. He went on to create “Cops,” eventually solidifying himself as a “pioneer” in reality TV, according to his biography on Langley Productions.
“Langley is often credited with the award-winning COPS program’s innovative ‘truth video’ signature style,” the site read. “Although it was now commonplace, at the time, the camera technique had particular influence on television advertising and news reporting, as well as other network and syndication programs.”
“Cops” ran for more than 1,000 episodes, making it one of the longest-running television shows in history, and won several accolades, including the American Television Award and four Emmy nominations, according to the site. The show’s reggae theme song, “Bad Boys,” also took root in pop culture throughout its broadcast.
Langley got his start in entertainment as a screenwriter, then worked as a publicist before moving on to the movies. He wrote and co-directed the 1983 documentary “Cocaine Blues” and directed “Dogwatch” – a movie starring Paul Sorvino – in 1999. He then produced the movie “Brooklyn’s Finest” in 2009 with actors Richard Gere and Don Cheadle .
Away from the screen, Langley, who lived with his wife in Los Angeles, founded a winery in Argentina and was passionate about off-road racing. He died in one of those competitions on Saturday, Golum said.
In 2009 and 2010, Langley’s team, COPS Racing, won first place in its class at the Baja 1000, an off-road motorsport event held annually in Baja California.
Langley raced in teams working alongside his sons, Zack and Morgan, according to his bio. He is survived by his two sons, two daughters, Sara Langley Dews and Jennifer Blair, as well as his wife, Maggie, and seven grandchildren.
Morgan Langley, who oversees Langley Productions, is an executive producer of “Cops,” according to Variety, which noted a 2009 interview in which John Langley explained how he had assumed the mere name of the show that would dominate television. reality.
“I’m kind of anti-authoritarian by nature,” John Langley told TV Academy. “If you had told me I was going to do a cop show, I would have said, ‘What am I going to call it’ Pigs ‘?'”
With post wires