Discovery plans two jailhouse talent shows

Company's crime network developing singing, dancing shows

Critics are calling it "Prison Idol."

In what has to be the oddest and potentially inflammatory "American Idol" knockoff reality contest to date, Investigation Discovery has announced two prison talent shows.

During the Television Critics Assn.'s press tour, the Discovery-branded crime network said it is developing a singing competition titled "Talent Behind Bars" and another show, "Dancing Behind Bars."

The latter is produced by top-shelf reality kingpin Mark Burnett; the former has not attached a producing partner.

TCA 2010  
Network chief Henry Schleiff made no bones about the fact that the shows were attempting to build off the success of Fox's "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 Friday at the Beverly Hilton.

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, like those with drug convictions, will be allowed.
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