Jamie King may be the only person in the world eager to call his new talent competition series “the anti-‘American Idol.’ “
“With ‘American Idol,’ those contestants got to those auditions on their own in order to be discovered,” King says. “We’ll be our own talent scouts for people who don’t have the means to buy a plane ticket or have a computer. We are going to find you.”
The charismatic pop music director-choreographer has teamed with “AI” creator Simon Fuller, judge Jennifer Lopez and her soon-to-be ex, Marc Anthony, in a grassroots search in North, South and Central America for the best in Latin artistry. Those chosen artists who make it past the rehearsal phase will be showcased in a concert package written and directed by King. The Blackberry-sponsored “Q’Viva! The Chosen,” set to air in 2012, tapes in Spanish, English and Portuguese.
The networks carrying the series have not yet been disclosed. Fuller’s XIX Entertainment will negotiate the U.S. broadcast rights, while Endemol will distribute the program across all platforms outside the U.S. and will locally produce the format in other territories. Deals are being worked out for the series to launch simultaneously on networks across North, Central and South America.
Despite Lopez and Anthony’s impending split, this fall they will accompany King in traveling to remote villages as well as cities in 21 countries from Argentina to Venezuela, seeking out fresh voices gleaned from YouTube and Facebook nominations and beating the local bushes.
“The premise is not only finding the greatest talents, but discovering the region itself: The beauty, the sense of community, and that Latin fire, that soulfulness, and showing it to the world,” King says.
(XIX issued a statement over the weekend announcing that “both Jennifer and Mark are committed to the Q’Viva! project and will work on it as planned.”)
After chronicling the intensive talent search, the harvested artists will be flown to L.A. where cameras will follow the creation of a concert show utilizing their eclectic specialties from street art to dance. The series culminates in a live presentation of King’s 90-minute concert vision, which will then go on tour.
“We know we are looking for singers, drummers, street artists, but as we start finding the talent, we have to shape-shift and grow the concept of what this concert will be,” King says. “The hardest part will be deciding what to pick.”
Although his specials have been Emmy nominees, this is King’s first foray into series TV.
“Jamie has an incredible way with artists and performers; he has the knack for delivering exactly what is in their heads even if they have a problem expressing it,” Fuller says of teaming with King.
David Campanelli, senior VP, director of national TV — Horizon Media, says the series should snag big international numbers. And while there’s never a perfect formula for what is going to be successful, he says having the right people and proven track records make buyers like him feel better about the viability of yet another talent competition series.
“The odds look pretty good with this one,” says Campanelli. “A young audience is going to drive the success of this show and make it hip and cool — or not. Jennifer Lopez cuts across all demos. And it will play well in the countries where these contestants come from. These days ratings are hard to come by, so the international is the vital part.”
King aims large without sacrificing intimacy | Playing Kingmaker in the manner of ‘Idol’ | Resurrecting Michael via Cirque Du Soleil | Channeling MTV devotion into a career | Extending the King brand into fitness realm