Weekly insights into our crazy world.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011



If you live in the USA and watch the FOX TV Network, you've been bombarded by promotions for an amazing new hit show debuting tomorrow night.  It's called THE X-FACTOR and looks a hell of a lot like AMERICAN IDOL.  Okay...you tell me if you see any similarities.  First, auditions are held nationwide where thousands of screaming kids proceed to make fools of themselves.  Then, the lucky twelve winners move on to the next round, where they perform in front of a live studio audience.   Celebrity judges then give insightful critique mixed with witty banter as a smarmy host cheers.  Finally, voting is held by fans to determine who gets the American X-Factor Billy Idol Award.   Ahem!  This doesn't sound like two completely different TV shows...does it?

Sorry about the cynicism...but this is really confusing.  So we here at the DUNER BLOG decided to straighten things out.  Our story begins with SIMON FULLER, a pudgy, pink-faced Brit from Sussex.  Although pig-like, he became the it guy for British music.  He managed the SPICE GIRLS, discovered AMY WINEHOUSE and introduced POSH SPICE to DAVID BECKHAM.   He is also one very creative dude.  In fact, he's the guy who dreamed up the fantastic formula for the hit TV show described above.  Called it POP IDOL, it debuted on ITV Network in the UK in 2001 and became an instant hit. Viewers loved the format but also fell in love the lead judge: The honestly-rude but cuddly-cute SIMON COWELL.  From Eton to Edinburgh, a whole nation anxiously waited to hear what insult Simon would hurl next.  The ratings went through the ceiling.

It was only a matter of time before the hit TV show crossed the pond to American shores...but not without some changes.  The three other hosts (Pete, Nicki and Neil) were jettisoned and replaced with washed-up '80's bubble-gum-pop-sensation PAULA ABDUL and unknown (but black) RANDY JACKSON.  Called AMERICAN IDOL, it would go on to become the most popular TV in American history...passing up both ALL IN THE FAMILY and THE COSBY SHOW.  The Two Simons basked in their success.  Who would have thought two simple blokes from Hertfordshire could become international celebrities?  Unfortunately...as we all know...absolute wealth corrupts friendships absolutely.  COWELL felt his personality was the reason for the show's success, while FULLER knew it was his creativity.  Bickering led to lawsuits, which continue today.  But who won?

In the UK, SIMON COWELL won.  He launched a new show called X-FACTOR designed to knock out his rival .  Although similar to the POP IDOL, it added new dimensions.  First of all, there are four categories.  The first two are Boys and Girls aged 12 - 25.  Anyone over the age of 25 is the third group (American Idol has a 28-year-old age limit).  The final category is for group acts.  Another difference is the Mentor Stage, where each judge advises and helps contestants in each category.  The main section of the show is the same, except the winner gets a guaranteed record contract.  It is now in its eighth season and has produced stars like LEONA LEWIS and ALEXANDRA BURKE.

In the USA, SIMON FULLER won.  In 2002, he was signed on as the executive producer of the original show with a whopping contract with FOX.  Four years later, they added ginormous extensions.  For ten straight years, it topped the Neilson Ratings, much to the chagrin of SIMON COWELL, who was jealous of FULLER's wealth.  He plotted to do the same thing he did in the UK: Launch X-FACTOR and leave FULLER in the dust.  But in 2004, he lost a lawsuit which forbid him launching the show in the USA show until the year 2011.  Well, it's now 2011 and it's time for America to see which Simon has got it right.

NOTE: The real winner here is FOX.  They broadcast both shows: IDOL in the spring season, X-FACTOR in the fall.  Cha-Ching!!!

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