Over the past five year, I’ve written a billion columns about American Idol. I’ve got nothing left to say about it. It returns tonight at 8 p.m. on Fox and CTV, Another two-hour audition show airs tomorrow.
Will it roar back as big as ever? Probably. The other networks are still terrified by it. There was not much standing in its way even back before the writers strike ripped through the schedules. It will be interesting to see if the new Tuesday and Wednesday CBC shows, JPod and Sophie, can survive given a one week head start.
In a conference call with critics last week, Fox’s highest-paid star, Simon Cowell, shrugged off speculation that the show might be ready to slip. “Last year just wasn’t one of our better seasons,” he said, admitting they dodged a bullet when Sideshow Bob-maned distraction Sanjiah temporarily hijacked the show.
Although Idol was still dominant, a few million viewers did bail last spring. Cowell feels that, based on the auditioners so far, this season should be much more legit and interesting. He agrees that the “show has to look better, has to be more fun.” To that end they’ve tweaked the set, allowed the kids to play their own instruments and given Paul Abdul permission to start sleeping with contestants again (kidding!).
Fox is counting on Idol to jump start its strike replacement programming, including The Moment Of Truth, a new reality show starting Jan. 23 (following next Wednesday’s Idol). Hosted by Mark L. Walberg, the series hooks participants up to a lie detector and a polygraph expert asks a series of questions. If they keep telling the truth, players can win the grand prize of $500,000. Sounds too easy, but as the stakes get higher, the questions get more personal. For example: Do you find any of your spouse’s friends attractive? Have you ever stolen anything at work? Do you find this idea lame? Family, friends and co-workers are sitting out front. Attorneys are standing by.
EW.com calls The Moment of Truth “…one of those is-it-genius-or-is-it-the-end-of-Western-Civilization? masterpieces.” Fox Publicity was so pleased with that back-handed compliment they lead with it on their press release.
TV Feeds My Family is looking forward to the celebrity version featuring Roger Clemens, Brian Mulroney, Paula Abdul and O.J. Simpson. If the strike drags on, don’t bet it won’t happen.