Simon Cowell proposes hybrid scripted-reality performance show to Fox
By Wade Paulsen, 10/08/2003
You have to admire the chutzpah of Simon Cowell, American Idol judge and Cupid executive producer. As part of Cowell's new contract, Fox gets first look at the next three show ideas from Cowell and his production company, simcow Ltd. The first one looks extremely familiar.
The New York Daily News reports that Cowell's first show idea is a hybrid -- mostly scripted, but part reality-competition -- set in a fictional drama and music performance academy in California. Apparently all of the episodes building to the finale would be scripted. However, in the last episode, two contestants would perform before a record executive, and viewers would call in to pick the winner.
From its description, the scripted part of the show would be a clone of a movie and TV series from the early 1980s entitled Fame, set in a school for the performing arts, that was created by the late Christopher Gore. We also remember a reality-TV version of the show that aired ... oh, let's see now ... in summer 2003, in which viewers called in to pick the winner. Does putting the two versions of Fame together qualify as an original concept?
We would be remiss if we didn't note that Cowell has made two changes compared to Fame: his show takes place on the West Coast of the U.S. instead of on the East Coast of the U.S., and the final judge is a record executive -- sorta like Cowell himself, who is head of A&R for RCA U.K. and his own S Records.
Despite the derivative concept, Fox has approved Cowell and simcow Ltd. to proceed with development of the show. Our only hope is that the next version contains something that's original, so that we can avoid another lawsuit over intellectual property.