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American Idol: Simon Cowell: You Oughta Be In Pictures?

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I last wrote about American Idol as the (not so little) engine that could [here].

While critics while away their days bashing AI as the root cause of everything that’s cheap, vulgar and boring in pop culture, The Phenom chugs past their windows without catching even a glance.

This week American Idol proved its mettle—not to mention its staying power—in what eonline.com writer, Joal Ryan, calls its “most important competition” yet.

That would be: ad dollars.

Ka-ching.

Yup. The big ones are rolling in for Fox as the golden goose comes close to busting a gut laying those golden eggs. To be exact, eggs worth an average of $705,000 smackers per 30-seconds of your, gentle viewer’s, time.

And, as Mr. or Ms. Ryan so cleverly put it: “the only show close to netting as much as Wednesday Idol [is] Tuesday Idol . . . a 30-second spot there will cost about $660,000.”

By comparison, according to Adweek, a typical 30-second network ad goes for beer change, $150,000.

But, it’s never enough, is it?

Now comes the news that the American Idol He-Beast has settled on his next artistic endeavor.

Yes, he came, he conquered. Music. Television. Books. I mean: Book.

Well, sort of.

(While the Clay Aiken book, Learning To Sing, conquered the New York Times bestseller list, the Simon Cowell book, I Don’t Mean To Be Rude, But . . ., conquered maybe the remainder bin at several local dollar stores.

Not to be rude or anything, but . . .)

Thus the inimitable Mr. Simon Cowell—Mister, still, because, inexplicably, he’s one of the few pop culture icons upon whom the Queen has yet to bestow knighthood [[ELTON JOHN CACKLES WICKEDLY HERE]]—reportedly wants to conquer filmmaking.

As in a big-screen adaptation of this original thought: The Tough and Fetching Life of (as Zap2it.com puts it) “Wannabe Entertainers and The Difficult Path to Fame.”

As if!

And, flash, isn’t “wannabe entertainers and the difficult path to fame” what American Idol is all about anyway?

Wow, if only From Justin to Kelly had been about “wannabe entertainers and the difficult path to fame,”instead of about love and text messaging, Justin Guarini might still have that big, beautiful hair and maybe even a contract.

FJ2K, which has been described as “equal parts Beach Blanket Bingo, Grease and any other cheesy movie musical you can think of, ” has been the object of some of the most brutal machete slashing known to man [here, for example].

However, when one peruses similar fare, I must say it’s difficult to discern why FJ2K was singled out for the tree chipper treatment.

Take Beach Blanket Bingo, for example. Its plot blurb is: “between surfing, partying and miming to cheesy songs, Frankie and the gang find time to enter a parachuting competition!”

Really!

Well, the film does include Linda Evans (yes, the blonde maven of Dynasty) as the “beautiful girl singer,” Sugar Kane—ho ho ho: get it?—who is kidnapped by Eric von Zipper (Harvey Lembeck).

There’s also a mermaid named Lorelei who falls for a mere land man. Actually, apparently he was no mere man as he went by the name “Bonehead.”

Moreover, one reviewer went so far as to opine, “Frankie and Annette [Funicello] and the other teens can’t act (or sing, or dance) but they all look great in bathing suits.”

As opposed to From Justin to Kelly, where Kelly can in fact sing and Justin looks great in a bathing suit.

Yet Beach Blanket Bingo was a huge hit and it continues to be a campy favorite.

Then there’s that little matter of Grease, which I maintain became a blockbuster simply because no one had the heart to dump on Her Blondeness, Olivia Newton-John.

Kinda like Old Yellar, she was just too cute.

And, of course, at that time Grease star John Travolta’s career was just as dependent upon adolescent hormones as was Justin Guarini’s career at the time he shot FJ2K.

Indeed, with the Grease plot described as “the friendships, romances, and adventures of a group of highschool kids in the 1950’s,” the stage production of this—I quote—“adorable” film continues to brighten faces around the world.

In fact, it’s like a hundred years later and a British theatre group is still breathlessly billing Grease as “the most popular, fun-filled musical in the history of Rock ‘n Roll!”

Excuse me, but this is a film that had a song (a very loooonnnnng song, if memory serves me correctly) called “Beauty School Drop-Out.” A song with captivating lyrics such as “beauty school drop-out / go back to high school . . .”

I mean, hey, I’m a “Beauty School Drop-Out” fan as much as the next joe, but, please. The rap on FJ2K was that it did not have “catchy” and “memorable” songs?

Well, yeah. I remember “Beauty School Drop-Out.” I also remember that root canal I got in 1994.

Anyway.

My point is that you can’t blame cheese for being cheese.

If you ask me (and I’m taking you did since you are here), the pulverization of FJ2K—at least by the critic-critters—was part and parcel of the general bash-American-Idol zeitgeist.

Cheese to cheese, FJ2K is at least as tasty (and certainly as wholesome—which, come to think of it, also always bugs critic-critters) as anything else on the tray.

Beside the facts that the critic-critters savaged it ruthlessly even before it was released, and that the studio failed to support their own product, my personal theory on why FJ2K didn’t (thus far) at least become a cult classic is two-pronged.

One, FJ2K opened against The Incredible Hulk. Of course, that movie turned out to be a supreme yawner, but at the time it had gargantuan (no pun intended) buzz.

Two, it rained for, like, three days when FJ2K opened. At least on the east coast, which you gotta admit is quite a large swath of Idol-dom.

Look, a large percentage of the potential fans of FJ2K did not yet know how to drive the minivan and we all know moms don’t do severe weather unless they have to.

But never mind. As I proposed early in the AI4 season, FJ2K seriously needs to be turned into a stage production and many idol finalists and even charming rejects should be cycled through the cast.

Of course, it would be helpful to read my remarks in context [here] but, to review, I wrote:

FJ2K would be a fascinating and delightful vehicle for extending the life of popular Idol alumi.

Just because “Kelly” and “Justin” were played in the film version by Kelly Clarkson and Justin Guarini doesn’t mean they own those parts. (And, anyway, how many times did they switch Darren on us on “Bewitched”? Or Harriet on “Family Matters”?)

Plus there are parts for two female and two male “friends”—so up to six idols could be in one production. Julia DeMato or Carmen Rasmussen could play “Kelly” in the first run. And “Justin”—Jon Peter Lewis, R.J. Helton or George Huff could be delish. Or they could just cast Justin Guarini as “Justin.” You know, if he’s not busy.

Indeed.

So, Memo To Mr. Cowell: Call me, baby. We’re going to Broadway!

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  • http://none.com Bob A. Booey

    Someone should do an off-Broadway thing where they just act out scenes from “From Justin to Kelly” very seriously. That’d be hilarious, for about 5 minutes.

    NBC’s summer 2002 “The Rerun Show” was the best, most clever network idea that wasn’t executed properly. But then, I think it’s an idea that sounds funnier on paper or live than on TV.

    That is all.

  • http://none.com Bob A. Booey

    Oh, and the classic Britney Spears bomb “Crossroads” as well.

    That is all.

  • http://none.com Bob A. Booey

    And “Pearl Harbor,” “Battlefield Earth,” “Patch Adams,” “Batman and Robin,” “Gigli,” “Last Action Hero,” “True Lies” and every other dumb, horrible movie you can think of.

    Feel free to steal this idea if you’re in comedy or improv.

    THat is all.

  • Calgon

    From Justin to Kelly was a light, fluffy, fun summer movie. I liked it. I’ve seen a dozen movies in the last month alone that were far far worse than FJ2K. People claimed to hate it (although they never even saw it) because it was the American Idol movie.

  • http://www.dracutweblog.blogspot.com Mary K. Williams

    Bob A. Booey says, “And “Pearl Harbor,” “Battlefield Earth,” “Patch Adams,” “Batman and Robin,” “Gigli,” “Last Action Hero,” “True Lies” and every other dumb, horrible movie you can think of.”

    But Bob, you forgot to say, ‘in your opinion’

  • http://none.com Bob A. Booey

    Mary, honey, no. Those are objectively some of the most horrible films of all time.

    That is all.

  • http://www.idolhabit.blogspot.com Sticker

    And mayI suggest a dramatic reading of the songs by William Shatner?

  • http://www.idolhabit.blogspot.com Sticker

    From Justin to Kelly was a light, fluffy, fun summer movie. I liked it. I’ve seen a dozen movies in the last month alone that were far far worse than FJ2K. People claimed to hate it (although they never even saw it) because it was the American Idol movie.

    My point exactly.

    Even the movies noted in the post above were far worse from FJ2K—not the least because they actually were trying to be big, serious, influential flicks, while FJ2K was trying to be exactly what it was.

    A fun, fluffy summer popcorn movie with a little quirkiness thrown in.

  • Ann

    Clay Aiken is my favorite male singer and male entertainer. Clay Aiken is the greatest and the best male musical artist ever!!! Clay Aiken Rules!!!

  • Mike

    Ann, are you forgetting to take your meds again, honey?

  • http://gratefuldread.net Natalie Davis

    “While critics while away their days bashing AI as the root cause of everything that’s cheap, vulgar and boring in pop culture, The Phenom chugs past their windows without catching even a glance.”

    So it makes big bucks. Is that a redeeming quality that nullifies its status as the root cause of much that is cheap, vulgar, and boring in (vile, disgusting) pop culture? Not necessarily (and I would vote “HELL no”). Donald Trump makes lots of money. So does Dick bin Cheney. So does Bill Gates. So do Britney Spears and Nickelback and Rupert Murdoch. And for a while, relatively speaking, so did William Hung. Money and popularity on their own don’t translate into anything positive or worthy.

    Somebody had to give the predictable response to such an unfortunate and disappointing nyah-nah-nah…

  • http://jmaximus.blogspot.com John Bil

    They show this movie at Gitmo as a form of torture. Think Clockwork Orange.

  • EYKC0208

    I really LOVE Elliott Yamin on Anmmerican Idol! I think he looked so HOT on that “Call Me” video they did!!!!If this isnt even what were talking about some one please tell me!!! Thanx cant wait till next week!!!
    !!!ELLIOTT’S #1 FAN!!!