From the Minds of 'Survivor': Jailhouse Idol Show

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Much like Earth's natural resources, settings for new reality series are running out. But crafty Mark Burnett, the reality kingpin behind "Survivor" and Sarah Palin's new show, has found a rich new well to tap: the jailhouse.

    The cable network Investigation Discovery announced a development deal with Burnett to create two new cell block-centered talent shows, with the working titles "Talent Behind Bars," and "Dancing Behind Bars," Broadcasting and Cable writes.

    "The essence of the show is to highlight people who have been convicted of non-violent crimes and misdemeanors," said Henry Schleiff, an executive with Investigation Discovery.

    The two shows are being created to piggyback off of the success of two current talent shows that use unjailed contestants: "American Idol" and "Dancing With the Stars."  Currently,  both shows are being imagined in half-hour episodes.

    The show's creators presented the two programs before the Television Critics Association this week.

    Schleiff downplayed concerns that talent contests involving the incarcerated could pose some ethical challenges.

    "We're not trying to be exploitative," Schleiff said to Hollywood Reporter, "we're trying to be entertaining."

    Network executives were careful to point out that only minor criminals would be featured in the shows, and no major felons.  The prize system had yet to be worked out, but the idea was floated that some money could go towards prisoner rehabilitation.