State rejects Kid Rock prison music video

Chad Livengood
Detroit News Lansing Bureau

Lansing — The Michigan Department of Corrections has rejected a request by a television production company to film a concert-style Kid Rock music video inside a women’s prison in Ypsilanti.

A Los Angeles-based production company had asked for permission to let the Romeo native perform a concert for 2,000 convicted female felons housed at the Huron Valley Correctional Facility, said Chris Gautz, communications director for the Department of Corrections.

“We politely informed them that’s not something we would be able to accommodate because something like that creates a host of security issues for us,” Gautz said Wednesday.

There are safety concerns if the department allowed a television production crew to assemble a concert stage inside the Ypsilanti prison’s fence, he said. Each piece of the stage would have to be accounted for because it could be used as a weapon by the inmates if left behind, the prison agency spokesman said.

“We’re not a concert venue,” Gautz said. “We’re a professional organization, and our task is to house and rehabilitate prisoners. Attending a rock concert is not going to do anything to facilitate the rehabilitation process.”

Some prisons elsewhere in the nation have allowed concerts in the past half-century. Country singer Johnny Cash famously recorded a 1968 concert at California’s Folsom prison that produced a chart-topping album that included the song “Folsom Prison Blues.” He followed with a 1969 concert at San Quentin and a 1976 event at Nashville’s Tennessee State Penitentiary that was released as a 1977 TV special.

The Michigan Department of Corrections also prohibits television cameras inside state prisons to interview inmates for news magazine shows, Gautz said.

“We don’t do the MSNBC lockup shows,” said Gautz, who turns down such requests on a weekly basis.

But the state agency is in talks with the company about filming a Kid Rock music video inside the state’s shuttered maximum security prison in Standish, Gautz said.

The 164-bed Standish prison closed in October 2009 and was rented for filming a movie since the federal government abandoned an idea of using the facility to house terror suspects held at the Guantanamo Bay detention camp in Cuba.

Radio host Michael Patrick Shiels first reported Wednesday morning on his “Michigan’s Big Show” about Kid Rock being turned down by the Department of Corrections to perform for the female inmates.

“It seemed to me like it would be a neat piece of publicity for the state, kind of like Johnny Cash did when he went into a prison and performed,” Shiels said. “It’s not unprecedented. Lots of other entertainers did as well.”

A representative for the production company, Boulevard Industries, could not be immediately reached for comment Wednesday afternoon.

According to Boulevard’s website, the boutique production company has filmed music videos for Rod Stewart, Bruno Mars and other professional musicians.

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