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'World Idol' competition planned for holiday season, with eleven 'Idols' and world-wide voting


By Wade Paulsen, 11/13/2003 

Pop Idol creator Simon Fuller has finally achieved his dream: a one-night face-off among winners of Pop Idol versions from around the world, to be called World Idol.

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Fox TV today announced that World Idol will take place this December, bringing together 11 Pop Idol winners from different nations. According to one of the judges of the South African version, participation is limited to the winners of the first Pop Idol series in the countries invited to compete. News24 (from South Africa) reports that the performances show will be taped in London on December 16 for airing on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, and the results show will follow a week thereafter (or even later, based upon the local affiliate's choice).

The U.S.'s Fox and Canada's CTV will air the first part of World Idol, the performances by the different contestants, on Christmas Day, December 25, 2003 (8-10 PM ET/PT). Because World Idol is supposed to be tailored to the home market of each contestant, the versions shown on the two networks will be slightly different. One week later, on New Year's Day, January 1, 2004 (910 PM ET/PT on Fox and 8-9 PM ET/PT on CTV), will come the announcement of the World Idol winner. We don't know why Canadians are getting the results first, but we're sure there will be lots of posters on the Reality TV World message boards discussing the outcome before Americans even get to see it.

Under the rules, North American audiences can look forward to seeing American Idol 1 winner Kelly Clarkson and Canadian Idol winner Ryan Malcolm competing, but American Idol 2 winner Ruben Studdard is not eligible. Also in the competition are initial U.K. Pop Idol winner Will Young; Jordanian Diana Karzon, winner of the pan-Arab Superstar version produced in Lebanon; South Africa's Heinz Winckler; and the upcoming winner of Australian Idol; as well as five national winners from the mainland European countries of the Netherlands (Jamai Loman), Germany (Alexander Klaws), Poland (Alicja Janosz), Norway (Kurt Nilsen) and Belgium (Peter Evrard). Since 20 versions of Pop Idol have been licensed, that means 9 Idols have been shut out ... perhaps until World Idol 2 rolls around.

After the show airs in a country, phone lines will be open for 24 hours -- but viewers will be permitted to vote for everyone EXCEPT their own country's Idol winner. Thus, U.S. voting will open at 10 PM on Christmas Day and carry over for 24 hours into the night of "Boxing Day" (Dec. 26). It has not been disclosed whether total votes or country rank will be used to determine the winner, although country ranking makes the most sense. It is also not known whether any rules will prevent Americans from calling Canadian number to vote for Kelly Clarkson ... or Canadians from calling U.S. numbers to vote for Ryan Malcolm.

Personnel from each of the international Idol shows will also be involved in World Idol. Fox example, each Idol show will supply a judge. South African Idols host Colin Moss and acid-tongued judge Randall Abrahams have been chosen as the representatives from their show. Other personnel have not yet been announced, although it is logical to expect that judge Simon Cowell, who appears on both the U.K. and U.S. versions of Pop Idol, may be part of the panel as well. Hopefully Simon and Randall will be the extent of the "acid-tongued" contingent, but that has yet to be determined.

19TV's Simon Fuller crows about World Idol representing the culmination of his vision for the show -- and about its U.K. roots. "When I dreamt up the idea of Pop Idol," said the show's "other" Simon, "I always saw it is a global concept, and so I'm delighted to see World Idol being made here in London. The last two years have been fantastic and it is incredibly satisfying to see a British TV idea being so successful on a global stage."

World Idol isn't the only Idol novelty being pursued by Simon Fuller. According to Sky News, a Celebrity Pop Idol special for the U.K. is in the works -- and judge Simon Cowell wants to make sure that one of Simon Fuller's prior discoveries does NOT compete. Simon told Sky that Geri Halliwell, "Ginger Spice" in Fuller's Spice Girls, had been "banned" from the show, and he couldn't resist a chance to blast her at the same time: "We've got enough people who can actually sing for the show." Simon has been a long-time critic of Geri, as seen in this 1991 broadside reported by the BBC:

"She needs to find another career, because I don't think she's a pop star, I really don't. She's a pop singer, not a pop star. Geri, you're very, very good at doing yoga. Look, she has had a ton of money spent on her, she has had a load of songs given to her, she hasn't cut the mustard, simple as that."

Considering how totally Simon Fuller's All American Girl, which starred Geri and aired on the U.S. network ABC, bombed in the ratings, perhaps Simon Cowell has a point. However, considering Cowell's similar broadsides directed at Clay Aiken, who has been a smashing success, we're hesitant to give Simon too much credit for talent evaluation.

FremantleMedia and 19TV, the producers of Pop Idol in all its incarnations, will produce World Idol as well.

Based in Santa Monica and with offices in New York, FremantleMedia North America (FMNA) is one of America's foremost producers of reality-based, entertainment programming for television. The company's credits include American Idol (Fox), which received five 2003 Emmy nominations (but lost out on all of them); The Price is Right (CBS); Family Feud (syndication); Oliver's Twist (Food Network); Date Patrol (TLC); American Juniors (Fox) and Cupid (CBS). FMNA is a division of award-winning international television production company Fremantle Media, which creates drama, entertainment and factual entertainment programming in more than 40 countries and territories. FremantleMedia is a wholly owned subsidiary and the content business arm of the publicly traded RTL Group, one of Europe's largest television and radio broadcast companies. The RTL Group owns 23 television and 22 radio stations in eight countries and is a division of leading integrated media and entertainment company Bertelsmann AG. (Just in case you wondered why all the Idol winners were signed to the Bertelsman Music Group (BMG).)

The 19 Group of Companies was founded by Simon Fuller in 1985 and since then has achieved over 35 No. 1 singles and 13 No. 1 albums. Fuller also has an impressive tally of over 60 Top 40 albums and 170 Top 40 singles in the UK alone. Fuller created and managed the Spice Girls, who became a global phenomenon under his guidance, selling over 38 million albums. In 1998, Fuller's 19 launched S Club 7, which has sold 10 million CDs worldwide, while its three television series to date have consistently topped children's viewing figures, reaching 104 countries. In 2001, Simon Fuller's 19TV created and produced the television phenomenon Pop Idol, the format this is currently in production in more than 18 countries around the world, specifically in North America under the American Idol title. 19 also manages such leading music artists as Annie Lennox, Kelly Clarkson, Ruben Studdard, Clay Aiken and Tamyra Gray. (We notice that they don't mention All American Girl. 'Nuff said.)


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