"Dateline NBC" recently aired a fourth installment of the investigative series. On the show, online predators were baited by deputized civilians and then reeled into a rented house in Greenville, Ohio, where reporter Chris Hansen and news cameras were waiting.
NBC has already committed to give one of the "Dateline" molesters a half hour dramedy on its fall schedule. The planned show, which will air after "My Name is Earl," was a big hit with ad buyers at last week' network upfront.
Rather than cast a sex offender, the network is turning it into an event by letting viewers vote for their favorite one on the last day of May sweeps.
"Everybody has their favorite sex offender they've seen our our show, whether it' Karl the Marine recruiter who refuses to take 'no' for an answer, even when confronted by cameras, or Kevin the hard working insurance salesman, who managed to show up on three separate stings," said "Dateline NBC" executive producer Susan Macklin. "Now you can vote for them. It' like the 'American Idol' of statutory rape."
Todd Langstow, 44, was one of the men who showed up at the sting house and took off all his clothes, expecting to meet an underage teen.
"Boy, was my face red when I saw [correspondent] Chris Hansen with those news cameras," said Langstow. "Still, I knew it would be publicity. It' amazing to think that I now have a shot at my own show, even if it is on the fourth place network."
In the meantime, NBC is quickly casting the sex predators on other shows to cash in on their popularity.
"We've got this one guy, David Gallows, who showed up wearing these awful jeans and plaid golf shirt," said Mark Elzero, the executive producer of Bravo' "Queer Eye For the Straight Guy." "We're going to feature him in an upcoming show, getting a wonderful makeover. The next time he shows up at some house looking for sex with a minor, he' going to look fabulous!"
Charles Covad, 23, a computer technician, who was busted on the third installment of the 'Dateline NBC' investigation, appeared as a contestant last week on 'Deal or No Deal.'
"Charles was really funny," said Ellis, NBC' spokesperson. 'He was ever funnier than [host] Howie Mandell, and that' no small feat."
According to insiders, NBC is considering replacing Carson Daly with Covad as host of 'Last Call.'
Macklin says the development deals with the sex predators had a deep impact on future investigations.
"We're busy planning for the fifth installment of our sex predator series, and we've got more people trying out than 'Idol,'" said Macklin. "It' a phenomenon. We're renting out the Los Angeles Coliseum for the auditions in June. And at the suggestion of our attorneys, we're advising local residents don't take their kids within 500 feet of the Coliseum that day."