‘Talent’ agents latest to seek American idols

Jan 13, 2003  •  Post A Comment

There is an old axiom in Hollywood that it is better for talent agents to stay in the background and let the clients take the spotlight.
“The Talent Agency,” from Western International, one of only a handful of weekly first-run shows being offered for the first time at the National Association of Television Program Executives convention, turns that notion upside-down as it becomes the latest show seeking to capitalize on the hype sparked by the surprise success of “American Idol.”
The hour series will debut in the fall and will run mostly on weekends, with Alex Thomas (“The Jamie Foxx Show”) and Eva Longoria (“The Young and the Restless”) set as hosts. It will feature amateur performers from a range of entertainment arenas, including singers, comics and models, as well as some never-before-seen categories.
A cross between “American Idol” and “Star Search,” which recently returned as a limited-run network series, “The Talent Agency” will feature would-be superstars who will be judged by a panel of real talent agents, Hollywood executives and celebrities. The winners will compete for a chance at a contract and a cash prize.
“We’ve noticed that there is no longer any straight-ahead talent competition in the syndication business and we felt that the opportunity was right to bring the genre back to the business,” said Chris Lancey, president of Western International Syndication. “We will feature head-to-head competitions in all different disciplines, including some that keep with the current entertainment marketplace, such as hip-hop.”
With two cycles of competitions during each program year, the various winners will square off in a final competition. The first will climax during the May sweeps.
“Limited series in prime time can only lead to finding so many talented people,” Mr. Lancey said. “But in this format, we believe that the sheer volume of people we’re going to work with is substantial, leading to the discovery of a number of stars of tomorrow.”
The only other hour set to hit stations next fall is “Unexplained Mysteries” from Paramount. It will profile paranormal mysteries through new and archival footage. The show is being offered at a 7/7 split for stations.
New half-hour contenders
A number of half-hour shows are also being offered for the first time.
“CosmoGIRL!” from Hearst is targeting the highly sought-after teen-girl demo for fall 2003. A Federal Communications Commission-friendly half-hour-meaning it qualifies as family viewing-the weekly lifestyle series will be produced with input from the same editorial team responsible for the fast-growing “CosmoGIRL!” magazine. It will feature advice, encouragement and inspiration on issues central to the age group.
Each episode of “CosmoGIRL!” will offer regular segments covering current issues in health, fitness, fashion, dating and relationships, political and social issues and entertainment. In addition, the program will profile young celebrities, who will share the inspiration behind their own success.
“`CosmoGIRL!’ will be fast-paced and fun, providing the type of information that enables teen girls to grow, make responsible decisions and have fun with life,” said Rob Corona, senior VP of Hearst Entertainment Division. “As our newest FCC-friendly series, we anticipate the same success in the broadcast marketplace we have achieved with `The Pet Shop With Marc Morrone’ and `Popular Mechanics For Kids.”’
“America’s Moving To …” from Mansfield Television Distribution has already cleared more than 30 percent of the country. It will take viewers on a tour of some the fastest-growing cities in the United States, with segments covering recreation, entertainment, real estate, architecture, health care, shopping and other facets of each city.
The half-hour lifestyle program has already been cleared by Mansfield, media sales firm WorldLink and WENA Productions in 33 U.S. markets, representing 30 percent of the country. Plans for the show were announced by Toni Erickson Knight, CEO of WorldLink, and John Mansfield, president of Mansfield Television Distribution. The series will be hosted by Mark Atkinson and Kathleen Ray
“Missing,” from Telco, will also launch this fall. It will highlight cases of missing juveniles and adults from around the country. The producers will be assisted by various law enforcement agencies as well as the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children and the FBI. Alex Paen and Bill Grundfest (NBC’s “Mad About You”) will serve as executive producers.