Ok, not news exactly, but some interesting reading.
This article originated in the LA Times a couple of weeks ago:
“The Los Angeles Times asked network executives, writers, historians and music executives to dissect the show to solve the mystery of why “American Idol” has come to rule the airwaves.”
Some of the featured pundits: Kurt Andersen, novelist and public radio host, Neil Gabler, cultural historian (and my ex-college professor!), and Lauren Zalaznick, president of Bravo.
From Jacob Austen, author of TV-a-Go-Go: Rock on TV From American Bandstand to American Idol:
“Through the ’60s, families watched TV together. All the shows were designed for the entire family. It didn’t break up demographics. “The Ed Sullivan Show” would have an act for the kids, but it would be a pop singer, an opera singer or a juggler — things that would be for the whole family because people only had one TV.
So “American Idol” is a throwback. It’s a very simple idea, but it’s actually pretty revolutionary at this point because things are really broken up into “now-casting” instead of broadcasting, “now-casting” of a demographic.
The other thing that makes it different is that there’s an idea these days that everybody wants to be an insider. Everybody has to know what the box office is for different films this week and what the ratings are. This show feeds to that. On the one hand, on any game show you’re supposed to be watching at home and pretending you’re playing, but this one, instead of pretending that you’re a person singing, you’re sitting in the same chair as the three judges. It’s really a key that Paula and Randy are inarticulate because the viewers feel like they are as good or a better judge of talent than these professionals.”
This Variety article details the huge cash cow Idol has become–not only for the Idol producers and Fox, but for everything it touches–including sponsors like Cingular Wireless, magazines and talk shows that cover Idol, guest musical stars (who see a huge spike in sales after an appearance) and Sony BMG, the label that releases the winners’ albums. thanks to bookwomanblue for posting the article in comments.
“In its fifth season, American Idol is re-arranging the entire showbiz landscape. There are hits and there are hits; this show is a full-fledged cultural phenom.
Idol is steamrolling every show in its path and generating hundreds of millions of dollars every year in ad sales for Fox. But “Idol” riches are also trickling into many other sectors of the showbiz economy.
TV shows, newspapers and record labels that touch the show have enjoyed a lucrative ride on the “Idol” express. And the show’s shadow economy isn’t limited to media — it’s also lifted the fortunes of a wide array of Idol carpetbaggers, from Cingular to Coca-Cola to a host of licensees.
Still, the non-Fox profiteering may benefit the network in less apparent ways. With more companies having a stake in keeping “Idol” alive as a brand, it may help fulfill the net’s hope that the show becomes a “Simpsons”-like fixture that thrives to the end of the decade and beyond.
All the spillover has raised a question: What exactly does it mean for a network that the most popular TV show in years blesses so many outside players? Herewith, a look at the net effect for Fox and for the other leading Idol beneficiaries.”
ETA: More pictures from Graceland thank you shelby