"Idol" Rewinds Dunkelman Era
by Joal Ryan
Jan 20, 2006, 4:55 PM PT
Brian Dunkelman's comeback vehicle awaits.
A syndicated version of American Idol, to be a mix of old shows and "never-before-seen footage," will launch next fall, it was announced Thursday. The hourlong American Idol Rewind will air on weekends, leaving weeknights to the mothership.
The initial season of Rewind will look back at the singing competition's inaugural 2002 season, in which Kelly Clarkson was crowned and Dunkelman was employed. Rare footage could include Clarkson's audition and new interviews with past participants. Should the syndicated Idol prove itself a worthy progeny of its powerhouse parent, additional seasons presumably will be revisited.
Dick Askin, president and CEO of syndicator Tribune Entertainment, expressed optimism that Rewind will measure up, noting in a TV-speak statement that the show has "dual female and male appeal."
A September 2006 premiere is planned.
The Rewind announcement comes just days after Clarkson apparently tried to distance herself from her TV past by making it known that she wasn't going to license songs off her most recent album for use in new Idol episodes. Judge Simon Cowell carped about Clarkson being ungrateful; Clarkson's camp subsequently revised its stance.
Idol's first season previously has been reviewed in tie-in DVDs, including American Idol: The Search for a Superstar. But of all the Idol seasons, the first has been the least examined. Its initial summer 2002 run averaged 12 million viewers, per Nielsen Media Research. By comparison, Tuesday's fifth-season premiere averaged 35.4 million.
Highlights of the first season included judge Randy Jackson and his then-unfettered stomach challenging Cowell to a fight; contestant RJ Helton taking a tumble off the stage; and runner-up Justin Guarini blissfully hugging Clarkson in her winning moment because, surely, both of their post-Idol futures were destined to be bright.
Archival footage from the first season also reveals that host Ryan Seacrest did not always act alone. Stand-up comic Dunkelman was an equal of Seacrest, helping drag out the voting drama through commercial breaks.
Dunkelman was dropped after the first season. According to IMDb.com, he most recently appeared in Comedy Hell, a $130,000 independent film.
An attempt to reach Dunkelman for comment on American Idol Rewind ended Friday when his last known talent agency of record said he was no longer a client.