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Former Louisiana governor and convict Edwin Edwards gets reality show

By Kathy Finn

NEW ORLEANS (Reuters) - Edwin Edwards, the Democratic four-term governor of Louisiana imprisoned for racketeering and fraud will appear in an A&E reality show featuring the spouse 50 years his junior he married in 2011, the network said on Friday.

The show "The Governor's Wife" will debut on A&E on February 27, said the network, which described the couple as redefining "a 'new normal' in the new South."

Edwards said in previous media reports that he was going to star in his own reality show, but the announcement on Friday made it official.

The program marks a return of sorts to the limelight for a colorful, longtime fixture in Louisiana politics, who headed the state as a populist Democrat in the tradition of 1920s governor Huey P. Long.

Edwards, 85, and his wife, Trina Scott Edwards, 34, became pen pals while he was serving more than eight years in prison on corruption-related charges. He was convicted in 2000 of 17 counts, including racketeering, mail fraud and money laundering, in a case that stemmed from the under-the-table sale of casino licenses during his last term as governor.

The couple were married just over six months after his 2011 release from prison. They have a blended family that includes his daughter Victoria, who A&E in its announcement called a "hardened 60-year-old ex-showgirl."

"The series follows Trina as she attempts to fit into the former governor's upscale world and busy social life while trying to get along with daughters twice her age and corral her teenage sons," the network said.

Edwin Edwards said in a statement he is only authorized to confirm the A&E announcement.

"It is part of our contract and I do not want to violate it," he said.

He served two terms as governor from 1972-80 and returned in 1984 after winning election to a third term.

He bragged during that campaign that the only way he could lose would be to be "caught in bed with dead girl or a live boy."

During his third term as governor, Edwards was indicted in 1985 on fraud charges related to the state's oversight of hospitals, but he was acquitted in that case.

He left office in 1988, stayed out of politics for a stretch and returned in a 1991 campaign for governor in which he defeated former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke. Because of fears over Duke's views on race, Edwards won over even voters who despised him, with some sporting bumper stickers that read: "Vote for the crook - it's important."

Edwards' fourth term became his downfall as federal prosecutors took him to court on corruption charges related to the awarding of gambling licenses.

Pollster Bernie Pinsonat, who followed Edwards closely through his many elections and became personally acquainted with him, said that, despite Edwards' checkered career, he remains beloved to many Louisiana residents.

"People in Louisiana are still fascinated with him and see him as one of the greatest governors ever," Pinsonat said. "He's still very well liked and, any place he appears, he gets a great reception."

(Writing by Alex Dobuzinskis. Editing by Corrie MacLaggan and Andre Grenon)

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