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An 'American Idol' of Their Very Own

Games* Developed with girls 10 to 16 in mind, a CD-ROM lets players plan routines, perform for judges and make a video.

September 05, 2002|SUSAN KING | TIMES STAFF WRITER

The new "American Idol" may have been crowned last night in the star-studded two-hour finale of the Fox summer series but the competition to uncover the next pop superstar won't necessarily have to wait for "American Idol 2," now slated to come to TV early next year. The contest continues with the Nov. 1 release of the "American Idol CD-ROM."

The game features a microphone, 20 different tunes, dance routines, two hosts and three judges--all the ingredients necessary to create the cyber "American Idol."

And players can even post their performances online for a national voting competition.

"The key portions of the show we were looking to re-create is that tension that people had performing in front of the judges," says Mike Eaton, an executive producer of the Fox series for FremantleMedia.

"We wanted to be able to see the interaction between the judges and the contestants and also have the ability to vote."

Vivendi Universal Publishing approached Fremantle just before the series premiered in June with a game the company had been developing for girls ages 10 to 16.

"Last year, we started seeing this phenomenon mainly with girls where girls wanted to become famous and play the part of an aspiring pop idol," says Leslie House, vice president of Vivendi Universal Publishing's kids division.

"We developed the game and started looking for a partner. Several months ago we saw this phenomenon in the U.K. and when we heard it was coming to Fox, we contacted Fremantle in New York and presented the nuts and bolts of the game and then adapted and changed it so it would be suitable for 'American Idol.' "

The game features three judges who are similar in personality to Simon Cowell, Paula Abdul and Randy Jackson, though the Cowell-esque judge isn't quite so harsh as he is on the series.

The game allows players to customize their cyber alter ego, who House says resemble the series' 10 finalists, though she admits "we never really got Justin's hair."

Cyber contestants must sing, dance, answer questions and handle difficult situations.

The game allows winners to create a video of their "performance" and then post it on a Web site.

The CD-ROM is just one marketing opportunity Fremantle is developing to cash in on the attention the television show has generated.

"We are in a genre of television where this show isn't going to live on for 13 years. We understand that," Eaton says. "We need to strike while the iron is hot, and we are moving forward with some partners that are really attuned to be able to get product in the market quickly."

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