'Idol' No. 6 coming together
By Bill Keveney, USA TODAY
Do you want to know a secret? American Idol is likely to put on its first Beatles-themed performance week this season.
Producers are keeping the singing contest's winning format intact going into the sixth season (Fox, Tuesday, 8 p.m. ET/PT), but they hope a few twists will maintain and add interest.
'IDOL' CHATTER: What do you think of the Beatles plus Idol?
•The possible Beatles-themed week. For the first time, Idol has permission to use parts of the famed songbook of The Beatles, executive producer Ken Warwick says. "We've got the permission" from Sony, which owns the publishing rights, Warwick says. Certain songs are still off limits, but "they said, 'Tell us what songs you want and we will do our best.' "
A couple of Beatles songs have been performed on Idol, he says, but the show has never had access to enough for a themed week.
There are "enough songs certainly to get a decent show out of it, and maybe it will be the first show of the top 12" finalists, says Warwick.
Ideally, the week's mentor would be Paul McCartney or Beatles producer George Martin, Warwick says, but no such plans are in place yet.
•An online competition to write the first song for the next Idol. "It's in the very final stages of being put in place," says Martha Brass, executive vice president of 19 Entertainment, a producer of the show.
Cecile Frot-Coutaz, CEO of Idol producer FremantleMedia North America, says she thinks the contest will happen, but details still need to be worked out. Brass is more assertive: "There's no question about it happening."
The contest, the idea of Idol creator Simon Fuller, would call for a contestant to write and produce a song and then upload it to a website.
A group of experts, including Fuller, would choose a small number of the offerings, perhaps 100 at most, that fans could listen to and vote for online, Brass says.
During the season, Idol would like to hold a special in which former Idol singers would perform 10 or so of the fan favorites, with viewers then voting to pick songs for the two Idol finalists, she says.
•An April special. "When we get down to the final six (singers), we're going to have a big special, with lots of stars. It might be an extra day" during that week, Warwick says.
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