TV Reporter Held Hostage by Inmate

A producer for Court TV got more than she bargained for Tuesday during an interview with a convicted killer.

The inmate, Kenneth Kimes, took the freelance producer, Maria Zone, hostage for more than four hours at a maximum security state prison in upstate New York, according to The Associated Press.

Kimes, who is serving a 125-year sentence at Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora, N.Y., for killing a New York City millionaire, used a pen as a weapon. He held the writing instrument to Zone's throat and ordered her camera crew and security personnel to "back off," Department of Correctional Services spokesman James Flateau said.

After a four-hour standoff, prison negotiators were able to persuade Kimes to release Zone, who did not appear to be injured, Flateau told the AP.

"He held me so close I could feel his heart pounding against my back," Zone said of the ordeal.

She told Court TV that she feared that Kimes would make good on his threats to hurt her with a pen. "I just had these flashes of him jabbing me in my eyes," she said.

Of her eventual safe release, Zone said, "The lord was definitely watching over me."

We have to wonder: Didn't the security people at the prison know the "don't hand him anything" routine we've all memorized from Silence of the Lambs? (In that film, you'll recall the horrific damage Hannibal Lecter was able to accomplish with a humble pen.)

Network spokeswoman Betsy Vorce said Zone had interviewed Kimes several weeks ago without incident and returned Tuesday to interview him on camera for Crime Stories, a documentary-style program.

No word on whether the gritty, crime-obsessed cable network will incorporate the crisis in an upcoming episode.

Court TV recently came under fire for the half-hour reality show Confessions, which featured actual videotaped confessions of criminals. After severe public outcry, the network canceled the series.

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