Music mogul Scott Borchetta and Fergie make mentor magic in CTV’s The Launch

PASADENA, Ca. — Are music talent based reality shows still something to sing about?

It’s a topic being kicked around in the US and Canada this week. During the current winter TCA press tour, there was a press conference Monday promoting ABC’s revival of American Idol (featuring returning host Ryan Seacrest along with new judges Katy Perry, Lionel Richie and Luke Bryan) followed by NBC’s panel  on Tuesday for The Voice (featuring Season 13 coach Kelly Clarkson and last year’s winner Chris Blue).

Idol trio Richie, Perry and Bryan. Photo: Roger Catlin

Both music show panels closed each respective network’s day. Idol, once TV’s “Death Star,” served up an entirely sizzle-less panel that especially suffered from immediately following the session of the press tour so far — Roseanne. Afterwards, however, the three Idol judges put on a brief, impromptu, singing demo in the lobby lounge, accompanied by a piano player (once he found a key low enough for them all to sing along with). Idol will premiere on ABC on March 11.

Tuesdays Voice press conference was more fun thanks largely to the energy and exuberance of Clarkson, who 15 years ago became the very first Idol winner. She told reporters she had turned down

Clarkson at NBC’s TCA press tour party with Jay Leno. Photo: Evans Vestal Ward/NBCUniversal)

judging roles on TV talent shows in the past. She was holding out to be a coach on The Voice, but even then had to wait as she’d been, in her words, “knocked up in the last three years.”

The Voice is the dominant talent show now she believes because “people love the fact that there is such artist involvement in coaching,” adding that viewers “do love talent over aesthetic every time.”


The producers behind The Launch, which premieres Wednesday on CTV, hope she is right. There the format is flipped. Top industry professionals such as busbee and Ryan Tedder write new songs and the goal is to match the right song with the right singer or singers to create a true chart topper. Thirty Canadians — some amateur, most professional but all without recording deals — are groomed by top industry players such as Shania Twain, Fergie, Boy George and others as well as executive producer Scott Borchetta (the music mogul behind Taylor Swift). A&R teams are brought in to raise everybody’s game.

Bell/CTV hopes the format catches on and they can licence The Launch to other countries. They have some competition, though. Besides the return of Idol and The Voice, the BBC has a new series called The Recording Studio (although it basically makes music dreams come true for amateurs).

For much more on The Launch, follow this link to the feature I wrote this week for The Canadian Press.

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