February 4, 2009 in Features

Execs from ‘NOW,’ ‘Idol’ teaming up for new TV show

By David Bauder Associated Press
 

Executives behind “American Idol” and the “NOW That’s What I Call Music!” CD series are teaming up for a new television show they want to get on the air by late summer.

The series will be a hits-driven music show that its creators hope can catch on in the manner of past programs such as “American Bandstand” and “Total Request Live.”

“This show will unite the whole music industry and give it one voice,” said Simon Fuller, creator of “American Idol,” who is putting the series together and shopping it to television networks.

“NOW That’s What I Call Music” is a compilation CD series of big chart hits, released every four months. It has been around for 25 years in Britain and for 10 years in the United States, where the CDs have sold 73 million copies.

An attempt to use that brand for a TV show with NBC failed before getting off the ground a few years ago, said Bob Mercer, chief executive of the “NOW” series. Fuller’s interest guaranteed another try, he said.

The show doesn’t have a host yet, and format ideas still are being kicked around. Top musicians performing their hits will be the centerpiece, but Mercer said he wants to highlight new artists, too, perhaps through a contest with the winning act getting a slot on a “NOW” disc.

“We want to make the show a platform for developing new artists,” he said. “That’s something the music business really needs help in.”

Both he and Fuller said it’s vital for the show to have an interactive element to keep in touch with the public. Other elements may include revues of veteran artists or fans interviewing stars, Mercer said.

Done right, he said, the show could become the central showcase for the industry – the place everyone has to be, like when MTV’s “Total Request Live” was the epicenter of the teen pop craze of the late 1990s.

With the Internet driving music fans into separate camps, the industry needs a unifying force, Mercer said.

He and Fuller insisted the show won’t seem like a poor cousin to “American Idol,” a dominant force in TV that has resisted attempts at co-opting the formula.

“It’s pretty obvious that that would be a trap that we would be extremely conscious of not walking into,” Mercer said. “We’re not competing with ‘American Idol.’ We’re certainly not going to replicate it.”

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