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Prison 'Idol'? Discovery plans jailhouse talent shows

TCA 2010  

burnettIn what has to be the oddest and potentially inflammatory "American Idol" knock-off reality contest yet, Investigation Discovery just announced two prison talent shows.

At the Television Critics Association's press tour in Beverly Hills, the Discovery-branded crime network announced it's developing a singing competition titled "Talent Behind Bars," and another show called "Dancing Behind Bars."

The latter is produced by top-shelf reality kingpin Mark Burnett, the former has yet to attach a producing partner.

Network chief Henry Schleiff was candid that the shows were attempting to build off the success of Fox's "American Idol" and ABC's "Dancing With the Stars."

"We're using them as a play off of the two most popular series on television," Schleiff said backstage.

On Twitter, the announcement was accompanied by "WTF" hashtags from the attending critics, who dubbed the project "Prison Idol."

The projects are sure to draw concern that the shows could exploit, or glorify, convicts.

"Were not trying to be exploitative, we're trying to be entertaining," Schleiff said.

One rule of the project to try and stem criticism: Nobody convicted of a major violent crime will be allowed to participate. Only minor offenders, such as drug convictions, will be allowed.

Perhaps Investigation Discovery can get Kara DioGuardi to judge?