More talent shows are coming, including a revival of Star Search. But are these programs discovering talent or serving as cheap knockoffs?
By ERIC DEGGANS, Times TV Critic, © St. Petersburg Times
November 25, 2002
Like many longtime musicians, Jimmy James has a talent for cutting to the chase when he has to.
The topic at hand: the rising tide of American Idol-style talent contests coming to TV next year, likely inspired by the blockbuster success of Fox's teen-oriented singing competition.
As the longtime guitarist for '80s popsters Tommy Tutone (867-5309), James has been around the music block a time or two. We met last Monday, when the rocker joined local entertainment industry types to judge WQYK-FM's end of USA Network's Nashville Star talent contest.
I had to ask: As a professional with more than 20 years in the biz, doesn't it burn his cookies to see shows like Idol make superstars of kids with barely enough experience to turn the microphone on?
"When you're a kid, people tell you you've got to practice and work hard to succeed, but once you get up the ladder a little bit, you realize that's not what it's all about," said James, entertainment director at Stumps Supper Club in Tampa. (He still plays the occasional Tutone gig.)
"Today . . . people want to be entertained," he added, noting that the local winner, 34-year-old Clearwater singer/songwriter Michael Graves, lit up the room with a spirited cover of King of the Road. "They're not looking for artistry. I had to learn that the hard way."