Move over, Kelly, there's a new Idol coming to down.
Fox is ready to launch auditions for the next edition of American Idol: The Search for a Superstar, and thousands of wannabe pop stars are hoping for the chance to knock Kelly Clarkson off her throne.
The network announced Wednesday that it will canvass the country in a talent search for contestants for American Idol 2, which will air in February. The search kicks off in Detroit on October 21 and travels to New York, Atlanta, Nashville, Miami and Austin, Texas, before winding up in Los Angeles on November 17.
If the first version of the contest is any indication, tens of thousands of 16- to 24-year-old contestants will line up to be judged on talent, ability, look and style. The Idol auditioners will be required to sing an a capella song of their choice from a list provided by producers. If requested, they can sing a second song of their own choosing.
Like last time, whoever makes it through hundreds of auditions, the sea of competition, the intense media scrutiny and the razor-sharp tongue of Simon Cowell will score a million-dollar recording contract and a secure a fleeting place in the pop-culture history.
No word yet from Fox on a premiere date for the next Idol installment. They are still working out the details of the show and nailing down potential judges. The only faces we are guaranteed to see again are those of the unforgettable Simon and grinning cohost Ryan Seacrest. (The network has no comment on whether wishy-washy Paula Abdul and oversized record producer Randy-Randy-Randy Jackson will be returning as judges or if sarcastic cohost Brian Dunkleman will be back.)
The birth of Idol 2 was virtually guaranteed after the smashing success of the first edition of the show over the summer. As the show got closer to its climax, Fox consistently snagged top ratings, scoring record numbers in the coveted 18-to-29 demographic and boasting a growing celebrity fan base. The series finale, which pitted Texas cocktail waitress Kelly against floppy-haired former salesman Justin Guarini, nabbed an impressive 22.8 million viewers.
The momentum from the initial Idol has also continued since the show ended last month. The new American Idol Greatest Moments compilation album landed at number four in the album charts this week, selling 146,000 copies, and Kelly's sappy single "A Moment Like This" continues its chart-topping run. Several of the show's finalists have snared record deals, all 10 finalists are touring the country in a six-week, 28-city excursion, there's already an official book and a movie featuring Kelly and Justin is still in the works.
So for potential contestants, a bid at American Idol glory seems like a no-brainer. Recording industry veterans, however, warn that would-be candidates should be wary of the restrictive contracts all potential winners are forced into. A recent article on Salon.com titled "Slaves of Celebrity" reports that to partake in the glory, Idol contestants virtually have to sign their life and career over to the producers and the publicity machine.
"There is a place for a show like this to reap benefits from its winners," entertainment attorney Kenneth Freundlich told Salon. "But the artist's career should be pure free agency from the start. These kids, like most artists, will get one shot at it. It should be the best shot that their independent representatives can find and negotiate, not one thrust at them by the show."
Fox, however, is strict about its policy, stating that in order to audition, contestants must "sign and agree to various required forms. Those selected to continue will have to sign and agree to additional forms."
One of those forms, Salon reports, makes contestants agree to "grant to the producer the unconditional right throughout the universe and in perpetuity to use, simulate or portray...my name, likeness, voice, singing voice, personality, personal identification or personal experiences, my life story, biographical data, incidents, situations and events which heretofore occurred or hereafter occur."
In other words, being an Idol is not something to take idly.