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Gladys Knight & Deborah Gibson to serve as 'American Juniors' judges


By Reality TV World staff, 06/17/2003 

FOX has named Gladys Knight and Deborah Gibson as the weekly judges of its new summer hit "American Juniors" reality program. The series' weekly performance episodes begin Tuesday, June 17 (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT), which will also mark the first night America can vote. Each Wednesday, the results of the vote will be revealed beginning Wednesday, June 18 (8:30-9:00 PM ET/PT).

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Gladys Knight, a musical legend recently served as an industry expert on the phenomenal "American Idol," and coined Ruben Studdard's unforgettable nickname "The Velvet Teddy-Bear." Over the last fifty years, very few singers have matched Knight's unassailable artistry. She has won several Grammys, enjoyed No. 1 hits in the categories of pop, R&B and Adult Contemporary, and has triumphed in film, television and live performance. Audiences can also catch Knight on the big screen in Columbia Pictures' "Hollywood Homicide" opposite Harrison Ford and Josh Hartnett which opened June 13.

Deborah Gibson is one of the most recognizable names in pop music. She single handedly shaped the teen culture of the late '80s and early '90s with an arsenal of hit songs, selling in excess of 16 million albums. Gibson became a certified pop star at 16 with her No. 1 single, "Foolish Beat," making Deborah Gibson the youngest musician ever to have written, produced, and performed a chart topping hit. Her subsequent success was fueled with follow-up hits that included "Only In My Dreams," "Lost In Your Eyes," and "Electric Youth."

Knight and Gibson will be joined weekly by a rotating set of guest judges. The first guest judge will be Justin Guarini, the 24-year-old Atlanta native who captured the hearts and minds of the nation with mesmerizingly soulful performances on the mega-popular FOX variety show "American Idol."

Knight, Gibson and Guarini will judge the AMERICAN JUNIORS contestants on singing and dancing abilities with a system that the contestants will already be very familiar with letter grades. Each contestant will receive a letter grade on his or her performance intended to help motivate improvement for the next week's competition. Knight got her start in a similiar way at the age of seven on "Ted Mack's Original Amateur Hour."

Talent searches for AMERICAN JUNIORS took place in Los Angeles, Chicago, New York and Chattanooga. During the auditions, producers evaluated each contestant's singing and dancing abilities and, as part of the show's production, whittled down the group of thousands to 20 semi-finalists, ten from the 6-9 age group and ten from the 10-13 age group. Now America takes over and votes in ten finalists from this group of twenty, five from each age group.

Tuesday episodes feature each contestant performing individually and graded by a panel of judges. The home audience will then vote weekly for their favorite contestant. Results of the vote will be revealed during Wednesday night's show. Each week, the performer with the largest number of votes will advance into the final group of five. This final five will become a new performing sensation.

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