American Idol 2007
As readers of Notablog no doubt know, I'm a big fan of "American Idol," which begins its 2007 season tomorrow, January 16th. (In fact, for me, with the premiere of "24" and "AI" this week, it's like the new TV season has just begun! Virtually all of the new shows I started watching this Fall are now history... but the old ones keep chuggin' along...)
A really nice article on AI appears in today's New York Daily News. Written by David Hinckley, "Why 'Idol' Outshines Its Rivals" brings attention to what I think is the essence of the series: It's a talent show! And it's part of a long tradition that stretches back to the Golden Days of Radio and TV; it may not match the track record of Amateur Night at the Apollo, but it's clearly an aspect of a larger talent show tapestry:
At its core, "American Idol" is really no more than a slick version of the Major Bowes and Ted Mack amateur hours of the 1930s, whose alumni include the likes of Frank Sinatra. Moreover, if "Idol" lasts 100 years, it's unlikely to produce anything close to the roster of winners Apollo Theater amateur nights have been delivering since 1934 - artists like James Brown, Michael Jackson, Gladys Knight and Luther Vandross. However much fun it is to hear Simon Cowell turn snarky, chasing tuneless singers back home was even more entertaining at the Apollo, where Porto Rico ran on stage in funny suits firing a starter's pistol.
No matter. "Idol" has become the most lucrative amateur night of them all, brilliantly promoting and marketing itself into a package far richer than the sum of its components.
So, I'll be watching tomorrow night; first, however, I've got to get back to watching last night's recording of Jack Bauer's explosive new adventures...