Here’s one show I won’t be watching!

Canadian Idol returning, promises to galvanize voters – but not in politics
TORONTO (CP) – This month will help shape the future of two individuals in Canada: one will have power to formulate laws and tax policy; the other will earn the chance to forge a stronger sense of nationalism in a completely different forum.
But when all the votes are tallied, it could be the Canadian Idol – not the prime minister – who ends up causing more buzz across the country.
In only its second season, CTV’s singing competition, which launches Tuesday night at 8 p.m. ET, promises to become a regular summer pastime, alongside cottage retreats and ice-cream runs.
An estimated 6.5 million Canadians tuned in to see Ryan Malcolm beat Gary Beals in last September’s finale – a bigger audience than for the Grammys – giving CTV the bragging rights for the most-watched homegrown English-language series.
Canadians also eagerly watched the latest American Idol battle. More than three million of them tuned in to see Fantasia Barrino beat out Diana DeGarmo last week.
Don’t think that federal politicians, who are spending this month campaigning for votes, haven’t noticed.
Executive producer John Brunton said several have called the show asking how they can get involved with the hit series.
“They have been wanting to use our show as a platform,” he said.
But show officials have largely kept them off the glittery stage.
“We’ve done it rather effectively,” said Brunton, who has been with the show since the beginning of the first season. “It’s not their place to be in our television show. It’s just not right. It would turn the Canadian public off if we turned it into a platform.”
That hasn’t stopped them from trying, and a few even got into the televised show, albeit via tiny pre-recorded clips. Last year, Nova Scotia Premier John Hamm hosted a homecoming party for finalist Gary Beals. Conservative MP Rahim Jaffer stood up in the House of Commons and praised the show the day of the finale.
“I urge all Canadians to tune into Canadian Idol tonight and support both Ryan and Gary. I know I will be watching,” he said.
Liberal MP Geoff Regan told the House the same day: “Canadians from coast to coast will be intently fixated on their televisions as history unfolds before them . . . I have been (struck) by the breadth of talent this show has brought to Canadians.”
Idol judge Farley Flex said he doesn’t blame politicians for trying, given the fan loyalty generated by competitors.
“When people press those buttons to vote for an individual . . . it’s a sense of empowerment, as opposed to the political system, where there’s so much apathy in voting,” he said. “People just don’t think that what they write on that ballot is going to have an impact on their lives. When you vote one night and your vote is represented the next night (on Idol), it’s a very unusual experience.”
It’s an experience Canadian producers aren’t going to change much this season. It’ll work using the same format that’s worked all around the world. The theme music is back. The atrocious Ben Mulroney’s coming back to host. And Flex, Jake Gold, Sass Jordan and Zack Werner will take their seats behind the judge’s table again.
Tuesday’s premier episode will showcase competitors – the good, the bad and the worst – from Ottawa and Toronto.
An estimated 9,000 aspiring singers auditioned for Idol this year. Of those, the judges chose 155 “gold-ticket” winners to send to Idol headquarters in Toronto. That group will be reduced to 32 before the public can begin giving its two cents about who they want to win a recording contract.
This season promises another fierce competition for the Idol crown. Flex said the talent was sweeter sounding this time around.
“They were ready,” he said. “They watched the show and went out and took vocal lessons. They really tried to prepare themselves for the experience.”
The judges’ standards have also risen from last year, so the level of talent is higher, which should provide more intense debate at the water cooler and on bar patios, said Flex, who manages Beals and Toya Alexis, a top-10 finalist from last season.
“There was a heightened level of expectation,” Flex said. “We were giving advice every show last year. People could have literally taken notes and had a road map as to what would be well-received and what wouldn’t.”
That’s not to say the William Hungs of Canada didn’t show up. Producers promise enough of those ghastly vocalists to boggle viewers’ minds.
Besides the wannabe pop stars, producers say there are some new twists with the wild-card stage, a new set and new genre-theme nights.
As well, Brunton said some superstar names are being courted to appear on the show. He hinted at such stars as Stevie Wonder, Shania Twain and Lionel Ritchie, although nothing is confirmed.
“We’ve got some tricks up our sleeves,” he said. “We’ve got some really big stars that are interested in the program.”