New series to document prison system
Court TV calls it “Inside American Jail,” packaging the show with an instrumental rock theme and a look similar to the channel’s other crime-and-justice-themed shows.MyNetworkTV dubs it “Jail,” producing the series with a hip-hop theme by Lil Droppa and a more urban, gritty wraparound. But it’s the exact same show, from the exact same entity: Langley Prods. (“Cops”). In an unusual deal, Langley managed to sell its new jail-set series to two different networks under two different names and types of imaging. “Inside American Jail” has already launched on Court TV, and “Jail” will bow Sept. 4 on MyNetworkTV. Networks repurpose series from other networks all the time — “Grey’s Anatomy” repeats on Lifetime after the show’s initial ABC run, for example. But it’s rare for a show to undergo such a major transformation from one outlet to another. “It may be to our benefit to have these different titles and packaging and music,” said exec producer Morgan Langley. “We’re dealing with two very different audiences.” Langley and father John Langley originally developed the show at Court TV, where it underwent several permutations before settling on the jail setting (after the producers noted that many series focus on prison life, but very few have captured the realities of jail). With the blessing of Court TV general manager Marc Juris, who championed the show, Langley was given permission to shop the second window of “Inside American Jail.” MyNet prexy Greg Meidel, who worked with Langley on “Cops” in an earlier stint at 20th, jumped at the chance to take the new show, Langley said. “I do think people will see jail in a way that has never been portrayed before,” Langley said. “For us it was a perfect, more dynamic environment.” Langley also took advantage of the goodwill the company had developed with police departments across the country thanks to 20 seasons of “Cops.” The new show, which received a 13-episode order from Court TV, has spent several months in locales including Tampa, Fla., and Las Vegas. As for MyNet, the revamped News Corp. weblet hopes “Jail” can do for it what “Cops” did for another burgeoning News Corp. weblet in 1989 — Fox.