Is talent always inherited? MTV’s new contest show Rock the Cradle — focused on the offspring of well-known (and mostly has-been) music stars — is the opposite of American Idol’s out-of-nowhere talent searches. I’m just grateful that Joe Walsh and Eddie Money didn’t pass their looks on to their daughters.

And if Twisted Sister front man Dee Snider doesn’t call up and beg Led Zeppelin to allow his son Jesse Blaze to sing “Rock and Roll,” what good is he then? Overall, the musical chops are mixed, with a smattering of pitch problems (Al B. Sure!’s kid Lil), stiffness (Kenny Loggins’ son Crosby) and just plain weirdness (Olivia Newton-John’s daughter Chloe, who has an underground-rock warble ill-suited to a popularity contest like this). But the show has a tweaked notion of integrity when host Ryan Devlin claims that the vote-determined prizewinner, apart from snagging a record deal and $100,000, will “earn the right to say they made it on their own.” Yeah, right, on a show designed especially because of who their mothers and fathers are. That said, you’d be heartless not to feel pangs of empathy for these children of show biz — nearly all of whom start their back-story montage with narration along the lines of “Dad was never around …” They must sing for not just viewer love but a kind word from their progenitors, most of whom are in the crowd. When the camera cuts to a cautiously smiling Bobby Brown (father of Brandon) or MC Hammer (father of Akeiba) for their reactions, their expressions make them look like jail time and bankruptcy were far less nerve-racking.

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