One Down, One To Go...
More specifically: "Idol: The Musical" was cancelled -- after one night on Broadway. Yeah, I got excited, too, when I first heard the news.
Is this an omen perhaps?
Probably not, but things may be headed in that direction.
"American Idol" has always been the Niketown of television. It's not the running shoes; it's where you get the running shoes. In fact, "Idol" has as much to do with talent and the DNA required to make it in show business as a well-phrased bumper sticker has to do with philosophy. Even at its best, the show is a show about stardom -- and not the stardom itself.
The musical, before it closed, was based on the nutty fan worship of contestant Clay Aiken (and nobody saw the holes in the script?)
Essentially, then, this was a show about a show about stardom. According to the press notes, it was "a satirical musical comedy that focuses on the outrageous and delusional fan base of the hit television show."
And this differs from the one on Fox exactly how?
How many times can the people behind "Idol" -- and those determined to keep it in our cultural windshield -- keep playing to those in the cheap seats? Pretty soon the fan base will get a collective case of macular degeneration from all the winking going on.
The show's promoters would have you believe that even fighting between the Sunnis and Shiites decreases during finals week of "American Idol," but the 2007 finale numbers, while still in the stratosphere, were down 16% (36.4 million in 2006 to 30.7 million for 2007, according to Nielsen Media Research) -- even if 13,000 people did recently go to Texas Stadium to audition for the upcoming season.
So "Idol"'s producer Nigel Lythgoe is right when he says the show could lose half its audience and still be one of the top-three-rated television shows, but it's also true that something is changing. Two years ago, a musical based on "American Idol" wouldn't have closed after one night.
It seems that while people still want to be idols, they're not nearly as excited about watching others become them.