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TCA: Investigation Discovery Developing Mark Burnett 'Prison Idol'-style Talent Competition

Investigation Discovery announced a development deal with Mark
Burnett to produce a talent-based competition with prisoners in the vein
of American Idol potentially titled "Talent Behind Bars," Discovery President and General Manager Henry Schleiff said during the network's portion of the TCA press tour Friday.

essence of the show is to highlight people who have been convicted of
non-violent crimes and misdemeanors," Schleiff told B&C after the presentation. "Maybe there's
somebody in a part of the country where they've never had a real chance
to have a proper education, but they have a talent. Maybe it's singing,
for example. So if we can give somebody like that, because of the use of
the medium of our series, a break, they [might] get seen. And [if]
someone sees that they have an extraordinary ability, it's a chance for
maybe a little bit of a redemption."

The show is part of two half-hour prison-based reality competition series ID has in the works, Schleiff said.

The other program is what Schleiff dubbed "Dancing Behind Bars," akin to ABC's hit Dancing With the Stars, but featuring the footwork of inmates.

think candidly, we're certainly using names. It's a little bit of a
play on America's two or three most popular series out there, and it's a
of getting recognition, a little attention for a show," admitted
Schleiff. "But the [ID] shows
will be somewhat materially different from those. We are hoping to draw
that wants to be entertained for half an hour, [but] we're not trying to
be exploitative. We're trying to actually do a show that is
entertaining and maybe has some good results for all involved."

for these competition reality series are still being determined, but
will potentially go towards supporting prisoner rehabilitation.

The announcements come on the heels of Investigation Discovery announcing Aug. 4 that it will bow three new series this fall. The series include Who The (Bleep) Did I Marry?, Hardcover Mysteries and The Will: Family Secrets Revealed.