On December 17, the upcoming worldwide holiday special World Idol was taped in London ... but bigger news broke off-stage. Chartbusting superstar Elton John agreed to appear on the World Idol results show, which will be aired on January 1 in the United States (on Fox, from 9-10 PM) and Canada (on CTV, from 8-9 PM) -- the same day that it takes place in London.

In the finale, the results of the viewer voting from around the world will be revealed, and one of the 11 contestants will be crowned "World Idol." Viewers awaiting the final result will first have the chance to experience a performance from a man whose musical career has spanned more than 30 years and led to his knighthood in the U.K. -- a significant upgrade from the "filler" that most finales include.

Richard Holloway, one of the executive producers of World Idol, comments, "We are thrilled that Sir Elton John is to perform on World Idol. Sir Elton is without a doubt one of the greatest international recording artists of all time and I am sure he is an IDOL and inspiration to many of those contestants participating in the show. His appearance underlines the magnitude of World Idol and will be a major highlight to what promises to be an unmissable final show."

Elton (born Reg Dwight) is currently enjoying chart success with his newly-updated Greatest Hits 1970-2002. The album's release follows closely on the heels of his massive U.K. #1 singles "Are You Ready For Love" (originally released in 1979 and recently re-released) and "Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word" (another 1979 song), in a remake featuring Blue. (What comes next, a remake of "Mama Can't Buy You Love" featuring horny hotel heiress Paris Hilton?) His World Idol appearance marks the start of a busy year for Elton, as he heads off to perform a series of concerts at The Colosseum at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas in return for megabucks ... as if the multi-talented singer-songwriter, who owns homes all over the world, needed more money.

Elton will be performing 75 shows over three years at The Colosseum, beginning on Feb. 13, 2004. The engagements are titled "The Red Piano" and will blend Elton's music with visual imagery to create a unique spectacular unlike any of his previous performances. A new "must-see" Vegas headliner to replace Siegfried and Roy, it appears.

Elton will also perform two concerts at London's Wembley Arena on July 1 and 3, and another two at Birmingham's NEC Arena, on June 28 and 29 accompanied by his band and the Royal Academy of Music Orchestra & Choir, conducted by former Elton bandmember-arranger James Newton Howard. We find ourselves amazed by Elton's continuing passion to perform, especially considering that he has been an international superstar continuously since his hits "Your Song" and "Border Song" in 1970.

The Pop Idol shows, including World Idol, are the televised search for national solo pop "idols," and are a FremantleMedia/19TV format. FremantleMedia and 19 have now "rolled out" the format to over 20 countries since Pop Idol first premiered in the U.K. n October 2001. Winners from the completed first series in 11 different countries will compete in World Idol.

Countries participating in and broadcasting World Idol are the U.K. (represented by Will Young), the U.S. (Kelly Clarkson), South Africa (Heinz Winckler), Poland (Alicja Janosz) , Norway (Kurt Nilsen), Belgium (Peter Evrard), Germany (Alexander Klaws), the Netherlands (Jamai Loman), the Pan-Arabic region (Diana Karzon from Jordan), Australia (Guy Sebastian) and Canada (Ryan Malcolm). Fremantle International Distribution, part of FremantleMedia (which is itself a lower-tier subsidiary of the German media giant Bertelsmann AG), is also distributing the two-part special internationally.

Five-time Emmy-nominated American Idol is created and executive-produced by Simon Fuller, 19 Television; executive-produced by Cecile Frot-Coutaz, Chief Operating Officer, Production, FremantleMedia North America Inc.; Nigel Lythgoe, Chief Executive, 19 Television ; and Ken Warwick of FremantleMedia.