AU Professor uses CIA background in reality show “Hunted”

Season 1 of Aki Peritz’s show is ending March 1

Students can see CBS see a familiar face in tonight’s season finale of “Hunted,” a reality show that involves fugitives and their attempts to evade their hunters for 28 days.

Adjunct professor in the School of International Service and former CIA analyst Aki Peritz stars as an intelligence analyst in the show, aiding the hunters in their search for the fugitives.

Casting agents reached out to him and various other law enforcement officials to participate on the show, Peritz said. The law enforcement officials work with the intelligence analysts to track down the fugitives using techniques such as seizing the fugitives’ phones and personal items.

“The [casting agents] found me on the internet,” Peritz said.“I thought it was a scam, ‘Hey, you’ve never heard of this, or the production company and you don’t know anything about the industry, be on the show!’” Peritz said.

After receiving the initial email, he went through a series of interviews with CBS officials to pitch the show to the entire network, Peritz said. Once the pitch was approved, they filmed the show for about 7 weeks, from May to June of 2016.

While shooting the show, the intelligence analysts and law enforcement officials had zero contact with any of the contestants, Peritz said.

“We knew nothing about the contestants at the time,” Peritz said. “We find out as the audience finds out, they literally give us a manila envelope as they start running. We don’t know who they are. The show tries to display how we process the information, how we make decisions.”

As an intelligence analyst, Peritz used various surveillance methods to gather information on the location of the fugitives.

“I would be assigned investigations,” Peritz said. “I would look through all their phones, their internet [history], do forensic analyses on their computers, their Facebook, social media stuff. Look at their patterns of behavior. For example, are they wealthy people? Who are their circle of friends? We built a pattern of life and then exploited that.”

Brady Hill, a sophomore in the College of Arts and Sciences, began watching “Hunted” after seeing a preview for it. He was unaware that an AU professor was on the show until recognizing him on air, Hill said.

“Me and my friend Evan were watching TV, and there was a commercial for it, and we saw it, and we thought that it seemed like the coolest idea for a show ever,” Hill said.

Peritz said that the tools and methods used by the show to track down the fugitives are accurate, and give the viewers a good understanding of the process of surveillance.

“You should watch the show because you can have some understanding of what folks in the cyber security realm do,” Peritz said “If you want to see the balance between privacy and liberty, you can see that, and you can also see the tools and techniques that law enforcement uses to track people. It’s a fun show.”

Hill urges AU students to watch “Hunted” for its entertainment value.

“It’s super fast-paced, and you really never know what’s going to happen,” Hill said. “It’s kind of exhilarating to sit there and watch these people be hunted.”

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