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January 8

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The Worship of False Idols
January 15

As America sits in silent anticipation waiting for the next season of "American Idol" to dawn, I sit sick in my bed, in front of my laptop, and can't help but think about last season.

WTF contestant in Sanjaya... Check.

Corny-nation single in "This Is My Now"... Check

A shocker elimination in Melinda Doolittle... Check.

And among all that hubbub, the smartest thing that I remember hearing from the last season of “American Idol” was not from any of the contestants or any of the judges. It was from Peter Noone, who was sitting in the audience 24 removed from mentoring the singers. He said, “It’s not a singing competition, it’s a voting competition.”

After hearing the latest round of pre-Idol hope, from Simon calling this “the best season yet” (no doubt being paid an almost illegal sum of money to do so) to three Idol alumni being dropped from their labels, I’m inclined to agree with the erstwhile Herman’s Hermits frontman. Seems that with everything that is going on with the show, the only thing assured about winning “American Idol” these days is that, in a contest where n(singers) are competing for a recording and management deal worth a million dollars, you just beat n-1(singers) of them.

And yet it’s still television that Fox is willing to bend over backwards for. So why is it as big as it is? Because, as my good buddy Jason Block would say, you are being fooled. You think you’re voting for the best singer in America. You’re not. Remember, the thousands of willing souls are auditioning not in front of music experts but television producers. That taints the pool, because they’re not looking for raw talent. They’re looking for a good story. Rarely, if ever, do the two mix.

Basically put, you’re only voting for the best of what’s out there.

If it were a singing competition, it would be “Making the Band”, where one person is calling all of the shots, there’s no competition, and you would probably end up with the idea candidate for a money-hungry record manager. As it is right now, it’s a popularity contest under the thin veil of a karaoke showcase, where you, and you alone, as the largest focus group ever to not even ask to be put in this position, are the line between the gutter and superstardom.

As it is, it’s just a bare-bones a promise made by its tagline in 2002 (back before this show meant something): thousands audition, millions vote, one wins. But let’s just say that you are the one who wins. Now that you’ve become the idol to the millions of people who voted for you, all eyes will be on you to determine where you want your career to go. That’s why Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood are doing as well as they are, because they took the position and claimed it as their own. Meanwhile, you have the likes of Ruben Studdard and Taylor Hicks who release CDs that are half cover material from Idol and half what someone else thinks they should be singing.
And we all know what happened there.

So if you’re reading this and you happen to be the one who’ll be left standing one Wednesday in May, here’s some advice... Take the title and hawk it. Because right now, it’s worth nothing unless you plan on doing something with it. I’m sick and tired of putting $10 on a losing horse that will be put out to pasture while we wait for the next one, and I’m sure I’m not the only one that feels this way.

Oh, and good luck, by the way. I mean that wholeheartedly.

Game Show Alphabet

We’re getting down to the nitty gritty here. We’re up to T, an entry that comes to us from the great white north. In 1989, a rather under-budgeted show came to American syndication with one of Canada’s most underrated hosts, and a cult following ensued.

So let’s talk about... “Talk About”. The show was produced by Comedia and the CBC and hosted by Wayne Cox. And here’s a little bit you probably didn’t know. Show creator Mark Maxwell-Smith was actually a regular on the kids’ game “Masters of the Maze”.

Talk About:

25 Days That Rocked the Game Show World: Day 5

Jeopardy! continued to be a driving force in the game show world, even as far back as the 70s. As the show continued to challenge lunch-time viewers, times began to change, and one woman was leading the charge. Hard.

January 7, 1973 – Lin Bolen Takes Over

On January 7, 1973, NBC’s new head of daytime, a woman by the name of Lin Bolen, made her first big move in that title, putting Jeopardy! on earlier in the morning, after Merv Griffin refused to make any changed to the format or consider a host other than Art Fleming, a man who had been the face of Jeopardy! since its 1964 premiere. That move on the creator’s part cast a giant bullseye on the property, which was pushed around the schedule to make way for “Bolen’s Boys”, a group of technologically-sophisticated shows hosted by younger hosts in mod dressing.

Still winning in its time slot against “The $10,000 Pyramid”, Bolen had, for whatever reason, had enough. She proceeded to kamikaze Jeopardy! up against “As the World Turns” and “Let’s Make a Deal”. Viewers did not follow suit, and in 1975, NBC finally pulled the plug after 2753 shows.

Bolen’s legacy continues to this day. One of the shows she greenlit in exchange for buying out the rest of Merv’s contract for Jeopardy! was “Wheel of Fortune”.
A case could be made for “Jackpot!” or “High Rollers”, but as for such gems as “Winning Streak”, “Baffle”, “Stumpers!”, and the game show bomb to end all bombs, “The Magnificent Marble Machine”... not so much.

Chico Alexander is still scratching his head over who in their right mind would go after Jeopardy! like that. E-mail him with some ideas at