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April 14, 2009

Michael Vick shopping post-prison reality show (his dogs already have one)

Vick Michael Vick is looking to play the reality game.

The incarcerated NFL star is talking to producers about launching an unscripted program. The proposed docu-series would follow Vick starting July 20, the day of his scheduled release from federal custody, and show him trying to “make amends for his past.” Attempting to land a show is likely a Plan B for the fallen sports star if he is denied reinstatement to the NFL.

Sources said producers even visited the suspended Atlanta Falcons quarterback in prison in the hope of signing him. As a result, there’s a few different parties calling around claiming to have his rights, which is confusing the industry playing field.

Vick is serving a 23-month sentence for dogfighting conspiracy. His attorneys did not return a call for comment, though they told a judge this month at a bankruptcy hearing that Vick has agreed to a “television documentary deal” that will pay him $600,000.

That amount is only the tip of what Vick is asking for, however. He wants a high dollar figure for his participation in the show, plus really needs the cash; he reportedly owes millions to creditors.

Another question is which network would be tempted by a Vick reality show. Insiders place bets on A&E and Spike TV as likely first stops.

“It sure won’t be on Animal Planet,” more than one source quipped.

Vick dog The Vick reality marketplace appears to be larger than that of the other tabloid figure seeking a reality-show bailout: Nadya “Octomom” Suleman, who despite headlines suggesting otherwise has struggled to find a cable network willing to adopt her into their programming family (more on that shortly).

If Vick’s show finds a home, he wouldn’t be the first celebrity to get help with their legal fees from TV networks. Mark Burnett locked up Martha Stewart for a version of “The Apprentice” and her daytime talk show “Martha” before she was released from federal prison in 2005. There’s also been pre-prison countdown reality shows, including Lil Kim’s “Countdown to Lockdown” on BET in 2006 and T.I.’s “Road to Redemption” this year on MTV.

Vick’s incarceration already has inspired one series: National Geographic Channel's "DogTown" devoted the opening episode of its second season to the rehabilitation of 22 of Vick's traumatized pit bulls.

So, yes, Vick's dogs landed a reality series before he did.

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