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TV Talents Out The Door

January 29th, 2010

1So Simon Cowell is leaving American Idol, Jonathan Ross is leaving the BBC, Conan O’Brien is set to leave NBC and Archie Mitchell was killed off from Eastenders – so therefore left little choice. I mean, where are we going to find people who want to be on television?

Amid intense speculation over his next career move and Jay Leno’s widely criticized return to late night, O’Brien stepped down as host of The Tonight Show to his biggest audience ever. The final episode attracted 10.3 million viewers, with final guests including some actor named Tom Hanks and a curly, ginger comedian apparently called Will Ferell.

Cowell inked a deal with Fox earlier this month that will end his American Idol judging role. “We reached an agreement formally at about half past 10 this morning,” said Cowell, who confirmed his new deal in front of reporters at the Television Critics Association’s press tour on Monday, Daily Variety reported.

Wossy announced he was leaving the BBC after 13 years working for the corporation. As the BBC’s highest paid star (by some distance), he said in a statement that he had decided not to renegotiate his contract. The presenter added his decision to leave was not “financially motivated”.indianidol

Apparently, both Britain and America have new talent though, or so Cowell, Piers Morgan, Amanda Holden, David Hasselhoff, Sharon Osbourne and Howie Mandel (it’s okay, I’ve never heard of him either) keep trying to tell us.

Of course, when one door closes another one opens, and just because such TV powers are moving on does not mean we’re left empty handed, lacking sufficient prime-time personalities and missing pizzazz. There’s baggy entertainment whose sole purpose it is to both find new talent and to exploit those who were once famous (or at least to have supposed to be. It all depends on whether you read Heat magazine or receive daily alerts about wags and Z Listers). Big Brother, All American Girl, I’m A Celebrity, Fear Factor, The Amazing Race, Survivor, all create entertainment, albeit in a very different manner than the TV judge or talk show host. There’s even Indian Idol now, already in its fourth season.

So, while the big earners are moving on to pastures new (personally I’d opt for an early retirement), there’ll always be those trying to discover new talent. Uncovering individuals, who, may never have long and successful careers at the worlds leading networks, but in the search, will create light entertainment for the millions who will watch it. Fame and celebrity is constantly being stumbled upon, but very little of it is truly sustained.

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Ah, Those X Factor Judges…

October 16th, 2009
The X Factor

The X Factor

I have succumbed for another year. The audition gruntings and howlings of the UK’s most erratic hopefuls finally gives way to the angelic harmonies of the final twelve contestants. The X Factor dominates weekend television now, and everyone is a star. In fact, we are guaranteed – through Mr. Simon Cowell – that twice a year (X Factor and Britain’s Got Talent) we will find ourselves a new golden entertainer. Someone propelled to instant fame, i.e. being interviewed on GMTV, This Morning, and likewise, early-morning US news/gossip chat shows. There will be untold fortunes for them, kiss-and-tells in The Mirror and The Sun, makeovers, celebrity partners and that now (almost) dead cert, a Christmas Number One.

The X Factor Judges

The X Factor Judges

The X Factor is a prime example of the power of television as a medium. Perhaps not the power of ITV (though their advertising revenue from the show must be their greatest?) but of television’s ability to manipulate the public. Or should we say the power of Cowell and his burgeoning media empire, with the show broadcast on ITV, ITV2, STV, UTV, TV3, and then repeated on ITV and ITV2, streamed on YouTube, tagged on MySpace and Facebook, and so on.

The X Factor has become its own judge with the audience its partner in crime. For we watch, laugh, comment, record, and rewind all those eye-squinting, ear-bleeding auditions, and then, later down the line, pick up the phone and spend our hard earned cash voting for these nitwits. Nitwit reality stars whom A.A. Gill described as, “Bereft of a natural expression, the body language tortured into a physical Tourette’s by a thousand paparazzi, and you have to think: these are very, very bizarre, truncated human beings.” The X Factor and the audience are now the deciding judges. Simon Cowell is the brand.

Simon Cowell

Simon Cowell

He is a loveable rogue though isn’t he? Past the V-necks and high waistbands. Naïve sixteen-year-olds from Essex tumble out of their auditions in floods of tears (which infuriate their burly mothers) because Cowell has cut them off prior to finishing a powerhouse ballad, telling them, “Tesco will always need shelf stackers.” Yet they are pleased that he spoke to them. Louis, Danni and Cheryl can say what they like, dribble negative comments or heap praise, but it is Simon Cowell who commands respect and each individual, whether craving their fifteen minutes of fame or pursuing their childhood dream, long for the nod from Cowell.

For those with a smidgen of interest remaining, the previous series winners were:

Series One: Steve Brookstein (winning judge: Simon Cowell)
Series Two: Shayne Ward (winning judge: Louis Walsh)
Series Three: Leona Lewis (winning judge: Simon Cowell)
Series Four: Leon Jackson (winning judge: Danni Minogue)
Series Five: Alexandra Burke (winning judge: Cheryl Cole)
Series Six: ?

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American Idol In Court

May 13th, 2009

In a development of the story we ran a few weeks ago, employees of Fremantle american-idol-season-7jpgMedia shows including American Idol, are now suing the company over poor pay and working conditions.

The former employees, including a music coordinator for American Idol, claim they were forced to work, ten, twelve and even twenty hour days without being paid overtime or being allowed meal breaks.  They also claim the company asked them to falsify time cards so they wouldn’t have to pay overtime.

It seems such treatment is not uncommon on reality TV shows. In January the Writer’s Guild settled a claim begun in 2005, on behalf of reality show writers, for over $4m.  In one claim, a writer on the series, ‘Temptation’ was awarded $14,000 in back pay and compensation.

Simon Cowell is saying nothing.

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No Glamour on Idol

March 20th, 2009

Former employees of ‘American Idol’ are suing production company Freemantle Media North America, claiming they were overworked and underpaid. American Idol Staff who worked in various roles including, music coordinators and producers, claim they were working 24/7 without meal breaks, or proper rest periods and received no extra pay. They were even asked to falsify their time cards to make it appear they worked the statutory 40 hours a week.

In January, two similar suits against four major networks and production companies involved in reality shows who violated employment laws, were settled for $4 million.

That’s a big NO from the workers.         Simon Cowell was unavailable for comment.

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