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March 26th, 2006, 01:33 PM

I don't watch a whole lot of television, but I've noticed lately that there are a lot of American Idol-esque shows springing up. America's Next Top Model or American Inventor, to name a couple. I can't help, but wonder if there will ever be an "American Author" show where instead of singing or dancing the contestants have to read from their own works.

Perhaps this wouldn't work as a TV show - after all, how much of a story could you fit into a three minute segment? But I think there would be the potential for this kind of a competition. Maybe a major publisher could offer a contract to an emerging author as a reward? And contestants could post excerpts of their work to a web-site. Judges could slam the contestants with harsh reality checks in their critiques.

This wouldn't be without its problems. For example, how would one compare writings from differnt genres? Would you have to submit a single story, or multiple stories? Novels or short stories or flash fiction?

I just thought I'd throw this out for discussion.

March 26th, 2006, 05:07 PM
There was a competition of this type in Britain last year, it was fairly small but still the idea is obviously there, best link I could find: http://www.channel4.com/entertainment/tv/microsites/R/richardandjudy/keep4archive/how_to_publish.html

Edit: this link may be better: http://www.channel4.com/entertainment/tv/microsites/R/richardandjudy/regular_features/publish_home.html

March 27th, 2006, 02:07 AM
I remember this - but you can see why it wasn't shown on prime-time ITV... I think it would have all been a bit too slow.

Plus people like us are more weird and geekish then the "extraordinary talent" that turns up on Pop Idol!

Or am I speaking for myself?

the alone

March 27th, 2006, 04:42 PM
Well actually there were a lot of Idol-like shows, but most of them died off for lack of ratings. Now that season five of Idol is drawing big numbers, and they've successfully resurrected the have low-level celebrities do weird things idea from the 1970's, we're getting a little resurgence. The Idol people are also trying to launch other shows, hence American Inventors, which is pretty much like various variety shows that have been on here and there.

The whole point of all these contest shows are that they are visual. Idol and the dance shows and such, are all about performing. The model and fashion shows are about creating something visual while being splashy doing it. The Amazing Race let's you see people try to do wild things. The inventor show offers visible inventions. People who are inventing improved computer chips won't probably get on, while those who invent mechanical potato peelers will.

Writers of fiction aren't performing and they don't create anything visual. The business of publishing is not very gladiator-like, so you can't even have something like "The Apprentice." And the writer isn't very important -- it's what the person writes that counts, so having writers do challenges isn't going to work too well.

The closest you can come is something like "Project Greenlight" because it's a screenplay -- writing that then can be made into something visual, a performance. You could have writers read from their work -- perform -- but it's something of a dull performance, and unless the writers are professional oral storytellers, they're probably not going to be very good at it. There are writing contests, but televising them -- say a documentary series like Greenlight -- would probably be pretty boring. Ooo, the judges read the entries!

What you could do maybe is a variation off of Project Greenlight, which is published authors competing to have their book adapted for film or showing the making of the film adaptation of the winner's book. Other than that, I don't see how you'd do it. It may be the American dream to write and publish a novel, but it's not the American dream to watch someone do it. There are a few book talk shows, and those are helpful to authors of published works for publicity, but it's hard to get media interest in general, unless you've got a film being done from your work.