Expect the unexpected this year

MANILA, Philippines—Surprises are in store in the seventh season of the reality talent search “American Idol,” which has moved from ABC 5 to QTV 11 for its local broadcast.

QTV is airing AI’s two-night premiere on Jan. 16 and 17 at 6 p.m., with replays that same night and in the weekends. QTV’s mother station, GMA 7, will air the local version, “Pinoy Idol,” in April.

In an exclusive interview, Joey Abacan, GMA 7 vice president for program management, described AI as the Kapuso network’s “biggest acquisition.”

“It offers a unique kind of entertainment,” he said. The AI official web site shows photos of aspirants with facial piercings or in witch costumes.

There are crazies, as usual, who audition for their 15 minutes of infamy, according to Abacan. “But there are also very good contestants.”

The big question is: Did Abacan spot a Filipino-American among the thousands of aspirants?

“I didn’t [notice], but we are on the lookout for Pinoys,” he told Inquirer Entertainment. “There was an audition in San Diego where there were lots of Filipinos.”

Auditions were also held in Dallas, Omaha, Atlanta, Charleston, Miami and Philadelphia,

Having another Filipino in this year’s AI was not far-fetched, Abacan noted.

“In Fantasia Barrino’s year (Season 3), there were two Fil-Ams: Camile Velasco and Jasmine Trias in the Top 12. Last year, AJ Tabaldo made it to the Top 24.”

After US critics commented that AI had “peaked,” producers introduced several innovations, Abacan said.

“This season, contestants are expected to play musical instruments,” he said. “And unlike last season, the show will focus more on the personal stories of the Idols and less on the celebrity mentors. The real-life drama was what hooked viewers in the first place.”

Abacan admitted that airing AI was challenging because QTV would broadcast the show “live” (Asian feed).

ABC 5 previously set it at 10 p.m. because it was airing the PBA games on the 6 p.m. time slot. AI is also aired live on cable channel Star World.

“This is the first time AI is going to be aired live on free TV,” Abacan asserted. “It will definitely enrich our programming and technical capabilities because, with a show like AI, you can expect the unexpected.”

QTV was informed that much. Sometimes the show can run for 30 minutes. Sometimes for an hour.

Last year, a charity show, “Idol Gives Back,” was suddenly staged in the middle of the season.

“We have to be ready for the show’s unpredictability. That makes it very exciting,” said Abacan.

A week before AI’s debut, QTV mounted an internal test run as preparation.

source: http://showbizandstyle.inquirer.net/entertainment/entertainment/view/20080109-111360/Expect-the-unexpected-this-year


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