Simon Fuller took a simple concept like Merv’s Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune and made it work for TV. Fuller took “Let’s put on a show” idea from the Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland era and updated it.
Like Griffin, he became one very rich man because he kept things simple.
Get one B list performer (Paula Abdul) and a guitar player NOBODY outside of the business has heard of (Randy Jackson) to join a record executive (Simon Cowell) and judge 983,766 “performers” to end up with ten people with real star potential.
The real genius comes in the final eliminations – the judging by the viewers. I’m assuming American Idol gets a cut from each call. 33-36 million telephone charges every week are pure profit to the American Idol machine owned by Fuller.
It’s so ingenious that bloggers are speculating we may someday vote for president by texting. OMG, is that a laugh. Imagine the gummit getting involved in that process. If we thot hanging chads were a problem…
Fuller has to be looking at Twitter.com and salivating. Twitter is a social application which allows one to post 140 words at a time to be shared with people who decide to follow your “tweets.” I imagine when American Idol is live, the tweets are fast and furious about the performances. Fuller has yet to figure out a way to make money (twitter spam?) off tweets.
But he’s close. At the American Idol live concert, one of the local phone companies displayed messages texted, after it passed their censor, on a large screen. For the hour before the performance, it was impossible to resist staring at “Jen Luvs Daughtry” “Kelli Rocks” “Yell for Jordin” or “Pull My Finger.” Yes, they did let some “fun” messages get shown to the crowd.
Fans were tweeting through a human interface. The Fuller I.T. gang are probably working on a Twitter-like system as we speak.
American Idol is very portable also. It’s show is tape delayed to over 100 countries, with at least four other countries having their own live versions.
Fuller knows his stuff all right. His company managed or manages The Spice Girls, David and Victoria Beckham individually Amy Winehouse, Anni Lennox, and most of the American Idol winners.
UPDATE: Randy likes to talk about singers being “pitchy.” It doesn’t matter. Sound engineers can make any singer sound great.