Mark Burnett keeps putting his unscripted TV company up for sale, negotiates with the likes of IMG and even Ben Silverman’s Electus, and then loses the buyer because he’s asking too much. And, increasingly, Burnett has lost his programming touch, too. For instance, he took over HGTV’s Design Star contest this season and turned the likeable Vern Yip into the awful Donald Trump. The result is a now unwatchable show. (Burnett doesn’t even allow judges Candace Olson and Genevieve Gorder, both talented articulate designers, to talk. Just Yip. Ugh.) That said, Ray Richmond, who’s contributing to Deadline’s TCA coverage, just sent me the news that the crime-themed network Investigation Discovery has hired Burnett to find the talent lurking in America’s prison system. Seriously.
Burnett’s entry Dancing Behind Bars will look to uncover hoofer talent among the incarcerated. The other show, Talent Behind Bars, is designed as a singing competition and has yet to attach a producer. Richmond says media in the room already began dubbing the second show Prison Idol, which Investigation Discovery honcho Henry Schleiff didn’t seem to mind. Schleiff noted that no hardened murderers will be permitted to participate — just those convicted of crimes like selling crack. Who’s gonna be the judges: prison guards? Surely there’s a buyer now for Burnett’s company with classy programming like that.