An ordinary looking building on Commerce Way in Hanover Township, Northampton County, boasts a little but growing piece of Hollywood.
It's the local office of Big Monster Entertainment, a full-service production company.
It's a bustling operation that's developing and producing scripted and reality TV shows as well as feature-length films.
The company's latest project, "Saving Heroes," debuts at 9 a.m. Saturday on Discovery's American Heroes channel (formerly the Military Channel).
"Saving Heroes" will document the heroics of first responders including police officers, members of the military and firefighters. The show also will honor civilians who have acted as heroes. Michael Noval, an Emmy Award-winning director and co-producer of the series, is best known as the producer of 100 episodes of "The Amazing Race."
Big Monster set up shop in October in Hanover Township, but it has its roots in Green Leaf Productions, a company that got its start about eight years ago inside a 140-year-old church in Easton.
"I was always the kid with the camera," says Rudy Vegliante, president of Green Leaf and executive producer/managing director of Big Monster.
The Emmy Award-winning Vegliante has a long career behind the camera. He worked for about 15 years for NBC/Universal on shows like "The Cosby Show" and "Nightly News with Tom Brokaw."
At his company Green Leaf, Vegliante focuses on local programming with a national feel and produced several series that aired on WFMZ-Channel 69.
But Vegliante says he felt he could do more than local programming.
So he turned to Lloyd Bryan Adams, CEO of Tenacity Entertainment, a production house in Nevada. Adams has 25 years of experience producing for channels like the Outdoor Channel, Extreme Sports and Fuel. Vegliante also partnered with Jason Lazarus Auerbach of Lazarus Films.
From there, a Big Monster was born in the Valley.
Big Monster's local office has $1 million in filming and production equipment. The company employs 18 people locally.
"Our strength is in finding unique characters and developing them out," Adams says.
The company will begin producing two films in the next few months: "Exploits of a Modern Man," which will explore the differences between men and women in dating; and "Sex, Sound and Silence," which will center on female DJs.
The company is also in active production on "Southern Drift," which will air next month on Velocity, a Discovery channel focused on high-end autos and sports shows. The reality show will look at drift racing, a type of driving in which the person oversteers (purposely or by accident), causing loss of traction in the rear tires or all tires.
But first "Saving Heroes" will launch. The reality show will air for 23 weeks on Saturdays on American Heroes channel.
"We really believed in it," Adams says of the show. "It's the right thing to do."
The subjects of the hour-long shows are also heroes in need who will be helped through the show. Help could come in the form of modifications to their homes, having a memorable experience as a thank-you or getting needed counseling. The show aims to help 46 deserving heroes.
"'Saving Heroes' is a very feel-good show," Vegliante says. "You walk away and you feel good about what you're watching."
As the series progresses, it's possible viewers may see Lehigh Valley residents or Valley people featured.
"We want to make the nation aware of the gem of the Lehigh Valley," Vegliante says.
Dan Lasko, an Easton Area High School grad and Hanover Township resident, is one of the program hosts. He's a Marine Corps veteran who lost part of his leg during a mission in Afghanistan and is considered by many to be one of the finest players on the Wounded Warrior football team. The team is made up mostly of amputees who were hurt serving our country in the military in Afghanistan and Iraq since 9/11. The team plays against professionals to raise money and awareness.
Many regions of the country are over-represented in reality TV shows, Adams says. He says viewers would be able to identify with residents of the Valley and the Poconos.
"We want to pull characters from the area," Adams says. "It's been something in our plan."
Vegliante and Adams see the Valley as rich with talent and stories to tell.
"We have a good mixture of talent in the area," Adams says.
•What: A cable TV show that thanks heroes for their efforts
•When: 9 a.m. Saturdays starting July 26
•Where: Discovery's American Heroes Channel (formerly the Military Channel), which is available on many cable systems' digital lineups as well as DirecTV and Dish Network satellite systems.Copyright © 2015, CT Now