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Rewarding longevity

I’m on vacation this week so I’m posting items in advance so you guys have a place to continue the conversation. Obviously, MJ is always the best place to go for breaking news.

The biggest changes in “American Idol” history are going to be implemented in a month’s time.

simoncowellWhy? Simon Cowell’s gone. Last season was a dud. Ratings are down. The winner? Who was that again? So we have new judges, no more semifinals, changes in the Hollywood rounds, and younger kids allowed to compete, just to name a few.

But for reality TV, “Idol” is hardly alone in its longevity.  It has many peers that show no signs of going away. Here are veterans of note:

Which of these non-"Idol" shows do you like the most?

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- MTV’s “Real World,” (1992-present) after 18 years, is producing its 25th incarnation. It’s considered the original reality show that we know today with confessionals and manufactured drama. Some of the current participants were in diapers when the show started. The show featuring disparate young folks thrown into a house has long lost its buzz to the likes of  “Jersey Shore” but MTV still thinks it draws enough viewers (usually 1.5 to 2 million) to keep around. Yet for some reason, Atlanta has NEVER been picked as a site for the show.

- A decade has passed, making CBS’s “Survivor” (2000-present) two years older than “Idol.” It’s about to finish a whopping 21 cycles on various remote  locations batting away mosquitoes and subsisting on rice for days on end. Jeff Probst has been doing the show or now a collective 840 days and has snuffed out more than 300 people’s flames (because fire, as we know, means life). It remains a solid hit for CBS, averaging 12 to 13 million viewers a week, a relatively stable level in recent years. Even a move to Wednesday this year has not hurt the show (although too many boring contestants and lack of strategic twists has made this season less than inspiring.)

- Emmy-winning “The Amazing Race” (2001-present) will be doing a second “all star” edition or its 18th cycle in February. A logistical marvel, this nine-year-old show has sent more than 400 people millions of miles to more than to more than 100 countries. It’s a travelogue and a race at the same time, with pairings  ranging that have included a little person, a deaf person, a diabetic and Harlem Globetrotters.  The only time it stumbled is when it tried a “families” edition and stuck to domestic sites.

- The CW’s oldest show is “America’s Next Top Model” (2003-present) after 15 seasons. This is where female estrogen dominated the equation, with a gay-friendly vibe and the flourishes of mother hen Tyra Banks. There were models with lupus, who had Asperger syndrome, who were partially blind. There were twins and a model who was a “transgender.” The show made normal-looking women feel fat (though there was always a token “plus sized” gal every cycle and one even won.). Seemingly every cycle a model  gets her long hair cut and cries. Did it generate any genuine supermodels? I have no idea.

- ABC’s “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” (2003-present) was a true phenomenon by being the most “feel good” show out there, giving deserving families great homes built in a matter of days. Former Grant Park’s Ty Pennington plays the inspiring host, bullhorn and all.  Unfortunately, the series in its eighth season has been seriously losing steam in the ratings, averaging about 8 million viewers a week now, about half its peak numbers. I’m not sure ABC is going to give it another season. To add to the weekly pathos, the show has been incorporating celebrities.

– “The Biggest Loser,” (2004-present). This show has always conveyed itself as an inspiration for fat people. Yet it has also been criticized for creating unrealistic expectations for people who don’t have time to exercise six hours a day and have a nutritionist on site. And some of those who lost hundreds of pounds regained them back later. I’ve never been much of a fan but it has been a consistent performer for NBC, though ratings are way down this fall.

- Lifetime’s “Project Runway” (2004-present)  has lasted eight incarnations on two networks. People who claim to hate reality shows have frequently carved out an exception for this show because it shows contestants actually creating clothing, not eating bugs or doing obstacle courses. But the runaway star has been Tim Gunn, who gives advice to the contestants and creating a trademark phrase in “Make it work.” It became a major hit for Bravo, which created a raft of spinoffs such as “Top Chef.” Its s shift to Lifetime was an ugly behind-the-scenes legal issue, not because the show was dying. Its move to Lifetime led to the show’s worst season but it has since picked up steam the past two cycles.

- ABC’s ‘Dancing With the Stars” (2005-present). I mocked this show at first.  Believe it or not, it was a summer fill-in show like “Idol.” The concept sounded so dopey that I predicted it would stumble and fall. Obviously,I was wrong. Tom Bergeron, the host, is deft at making light of the competition without mocking it. The judge’s panel includes the over-the-top hilarious Bruno Tonioli. And the often C-grade celebrities often used this show as a launch pad for bigger and better things (see Mario Lopez) or at least a grasp at greater respectability (Jerry Springer). Heck, it even made us honor a great American in Buzz Aldrin. This past season, Bristol Palin fueled the show to some of its highest ratings to date. (I’m curious to see how many folks who say they refuse to ever watch again because of her presence actually keep to their word come springtime.)

— I could include “The Apprentice” (2004-present), but it has had a more checkered life than these other shows. It opened huge but lost momentum very quickly and the original incarnation died in 2007. To survive, Donald Trump had to create a “Celebrity” edition, which does okay but is hardly a savior to NBC. This fall’s effort to bring back the original version failed miserably.

16 comments Add your comment

Deirdre

December 20th, 2010
8:24 am

Morning!

Rodney, thank you for the new thread…I know that you worked way too hard to keep us all happy while you are vacationing. I hope leg 1 of your trip was good.

We saw a Stephen Tyler-centric ad for Idol on tv yesterday and my d-i-l said that she might try it this year just because there are 3 performers as judges. I don’t think she liked Simon very much.

Harriett

December 20th, 2010
9:12 am

Good morning! Have a great time, Rodney!

My youngest sister, who used to live in Overland Park, KS, moved here three years ago, and I have to admit that I miss the excitement of making plans, getting on a plane, and traveling to where there is snow for Christmas. The airport was always playing Christmas music as we arrived, and families were excited to see each other as they got off planes, etc. Of course, it was exciting to leave the snow there, too, once Christmas was over. :)

Deirdre

December 20th, 2010
9:23 am

If y’all remember, American Idol filmed homecoming stories with all the former winners for promotional purposes. Now, according to mj, Fox is planning to air a 30 minute special with footage from those stories. You’ll have to check your listings for when it will air in your area.

I-Ninjakicksbackxfactor

December 20th, 2010
9:41 am

AINow, Idol Chatter, and Idol Inferno are all better than MJ’s. Nicer too.

Deirdre

December 20th, 2010
10:00 am

How do we rank, Ninja? ;-)

Mercedes S.

December 20th, 2010
10:11 am

Good Morning, and I hope Rodney – and everyboy else – is enjoying this special week.
The McPhee girl sings Christmas music on “Regis and the blond chick” show tomorrow.
From pictures from the Atlanta Mayor’s masked ball it looked like Fantasia was having a good time. I counted to five tats on her upper body.

Rickster

December 20th, 2010
1:21 pm

Mercedes… if you’re counting tat on Fantasia… you’re paying waaaAAAAAAAyyyyyy too close of attention. :-)

Harriett

December 20th, 2010
3:56 pm

Talk about slow!

Rickster

December 20th, 2010
4:31 pm

Don’t feel so bad about DWTS, Rodney. I remember watching the trailer for the original “Star Wars” film and thinking “boy… that’s gonna bomb.”

:-)

Mercedes S.

December 20th, 2010
4:33 pm

Rickster, so what do you think of “Cowboys in Space” trailer?

Rickster

December 20th, 2010
4:37 pm

Haven’t seen it. I go to movies in theaters about as often as I win the lottery.

Rickster

December 20th, 2010
4:50 pm

Heading out for the evening, folks. Hope everyone has a great evening (and a good day to Sakura.)

One last thing… I wish Fantasia (along with a LOT of others) had left that mask on.

Harriett

December 20th, 2010
4:51 pm

Hopefully, there will be more activity tomorrow. See ya, Rickster!

Deirdre

December 20th, 2010
4:54 pm

Mercedes…do you mean Cowboys and Aliens? That trailer has me totally confused.

JTesla

December 20th, 2010
5:44 pm

You have Cowboys, you add Aliens then POOF Cowboys and Aliens.

Mercedes S.

December 20th, 2010
6:09 pm

Of course, D., just wanted to add to the confusion… it’s supposed to be a serious movie.

And speaking of confusion, it’s lovely to read that Shania Twain has found love again and is now is engaged… but… engaged to the ex-husband of the woman who had an affair with Mr. Twain?? (Or whatever his name is.)