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CMT Tunes Up for ‘Duets’ Competition

Nov 4, 2007  •  Post A Comment

CMT is looking for an “Idol” of its own. Two, actually.
Viacom’s country-flavored cable channel has ordered 11 one-hour episodes of musical competition show “Can You Duet?” from FremantleMedia North America, which also produces “American Idol.”
CMT, the No. 35 ad-supported cable network in total prime-time viewership in the third quarter, has been adding reality to its schedule with such shows as “Trick My Truck” and “Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders.”
“We’ve been wanting to get into the music competition game for a while, but we wanted to do it right,” said Bob Kusbit, who was named CMT’s head of development in January. “This is a big play for us. A big commitment. It’s one show of a number we think will break out and grab the country audience this year.”
Working with Fremantle should ensure a show that’s “music credible, Nashville credible, country music credible and made for real compelling television,” he said. ”
There is another country music competition show on cable, “Nashville Star,” but USA Network has not yet scheduled a fifth season of the show, a USA spokesman said.
But Fremantle is not out to create an “Idol” clone.
The show comes from a format that originated in Denmark, said Eugene Young, chief creative officer for Fremantle. A big part of the show was the behind-the-scenes activity as the contestants interacted with their singing partners. Some people try out for the show as duos, and sometimes only one of the pair is chosen. Sometimes both are chosen, but split up. Others come as individuals and must find a partner to sing with.
“Viewers haven’t seen this. It’s one thing to sing, then you have to get along,” Mr. Young said. In Denmark, “You had a lot of this drama in the show. People fell in love, people fell in hate. It all plays a role in creating the personalities. The audience is rooting for not only talent, but story and personality, and you’re going to see a lot of this come out.”
Mr. Young said he also was talking to CMT about finding a way to judge the competition that would be different from the three-person panel of critics so familiar to reality show audiences.
The show is scheduled to air in April. An open call for contestants has begun on the Web.
Jeff Boggs, formerly with “Nash­ville Star,” will be the executive producer, but the key on-air roles have yet to be filled, including a host, judges and a music industry expert who will act as mentor to the contestants as they attempt to master the tricky art of the duet. The show also needs a venue, possibly a honky-tonk type of club in Nashville.
Prizes for the winners are not yet finalized. Mr. Young said he was working with Fremantle’s sister company Sony BMG to secure a record contract for the winners, who will appear on specials on CMT and other high-profile CMT properties.

27 Comments

  1. My son lives in Nashville and has just made it to the 3rd round on Duets. He went alone and got paired up with someone. I’m really excited to see the show. Your article said it will air in April. When in April and what time?
    Linda Clark
    Northridge, CA

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