"Idol" Gets Starstruck
Thursday June 23 3:56 PM ET
By Sarah Hall
Fox is rolling out the red carpet for an all-star spinoff of its top-rated reality show.
Instead of watching gifted nobodies battle for fame and glory on American Idol, fans of the talent search may soon be able to watch their favorite stars duke it out on the newly minted Celebrity Idol.
Producers FremantleMedia and 19 Entertainment have given the thumbs-up to the project, which would be produced by the Idol team made up of Simon Fuller, Nigel Lythgoe, Cecile Frot-Coutaz and Ken Warwick.
Ten famous folk would make up the cast, pitting their vocal stylings against one another for a $1 million prize, which would go to the winner's charity of choice. As the series would be dealing with fragile celebrity egos, as opposed to the egos of the Average Joe or Jane, there would be no embarrassing auditions to determine who made the cut.
The show would reportedly be broadcast as a 10-episode miniseries of sorts over a two to three week period. Viewers would still vote by phone to determine which contestant would be eliminated and the results would be revealed on the next performance show.
Producers are working on attaching Idol judges Simon Cowell, Paula Abdul and Randy Jackson, as well as host Ryan Seacrest, to the project.
Fox exec Mike Darnell told Daily Variety that the plan was "to go for the biggest talent possible," in terms of the celebrities who would make up the cast.
"We're looking for people who can sing but aren't known for singing," Darnell said.
Celebrity editions of reality shows have, in the past, found themselves reaching when it came to their "stars." (See: I'm a Celebrity...Get Me Out of Here.)
However, ABC's Dancing with the Stars, featuring such "celebs" as former Bachelorette Trista and heavyweight Evander Holyfield cutting a rug with (gasp!) ordinary dance instructors, has proved to be a huge hit for the network, proving that A-list talent isn't necessary to win ratings wars.
Fox isn't the only network to come up with the bright idea of showcasing the musical chops of celebrities not known for their singing skills.
Earlier this week, NBC announced its latest reality series, I'm a Celebrity But I Want To Be a Pop Star. The show will feature celebs from the worlds of film, television and sports doing their best imitations of rock stars for an audience who will determine their fates.
"Everyone secretly wants to get on stage and become a pop star--and celebrities are no different," NBC exec Craig Plestis said in a statement. "This new series will allow viewers to see who's really entitled to live out that dream."
Apparently, celebrities looking to expose their inner rock god will have plenty of options.
There's also a new Idol option for wannabes looking to show off their voices...but not on television.
FremantleMedia has given the go-ahead to a new Web-based service called American Idol Underground, which will give participants the chance to upload their vocals onto the Internet for a fee, where they'll be judged by listeners. The best tunes will go on to be judged by celebrity experts who will determine the winners.
Prizes won't be on the scale of the million-dollar recording contract earned by Idol winners, but participants can expect rewards such as added exposure for their music.
In other Idol news, Fox reportedly continues to investigate the claims of former contestant Corey Clark, who claimed to have had an affair with Abdul while competing on the show.
Though Clark had previously said he had no interest in assisting Fox in the network's probe, he recently began singing a different tune.
"It is painfully clear that unless my fellow AI season two contestants and I are directly involved with Fox executives during the investigation, we will never know if an investigation ever really took place," Clark said in a statement earlier this month. "With that said, I will not only fully comply with a Fox investigation of American Idol, but I will refrain from discussing my information concerning the questionable conduct with anyone except the officials handling the questioning once the investigation begins.
"I realize now that without my direct participation in a Fox probe, we will never find out what the fans, the sponsors, and the network deserve...the truth."
Meanwhile, a group of less irate ex-Idols are currently preparing for the Pop Tarts Present American Idols Live! tour, featuring the 10 finalists from season four, which kicks off July 12 in Sunrise, Florida, and will travel to 41 cities in all.
Newly crowned Idol Carrie Underwood has already met with success with 129,610 copies of her debut single, "Inside Your Heaven/Independence Day," sold, putting the Oklahoma native at the top of the charts.
Auditions for the fifth season of American Idol are taking place this summer in Austin, Memphis, Chicago, Atlanta, Denver and Boston. http://tv.yahoo.com/news/eo/20050623/111956736000.html