"Idol" creator eyes TV version of "Now" CDs
NEW YORK (Billboard) - "Now That's What I Call Music!," the long-running series of hit-single compilations, is being shopped as a TV show by "American Idol" mastermind Simon Fuller and his 19 Entertainment company.
The show is still in its early stages and doesn't have an official title yet, although it's likely to incorporate some variation of the "Now" brand name.
Fuller, whose properties also include the reality competition show "So You Think You Can Dance," has the exclusive global rights to negotiate a TV deal based on the "Now That's What I Call Music!" property.
"This show will be nothing like 'American Idol' and definitely won't be a spinoff," he said. "It will be a new take on music programing."
At the center of the show will be the hits themselves, by such acts as Britney Spears, U2 and Jay-Z.
"The TV show is designed to take the brand 'Now' and bring it to a broader level," said Bob Mercer, CEO of Now That's What I Call Music, a partnership involving Sony Music Entertainment, Universal Music Group and EMI Music. (Warner Music Group has a competing product called "Only Hits.")
"A lot of people are buying 'Now' as their guide to what is happening in the music world over the last few months," Mercer said. "The intent is to take that brand and that trust in that brand and establish it as a TV show with the same elements."
That, he suggests, could mean featuring performances by artists whose songs are on the compilations, whether through concert footage or in-studio appearances. "We'll probably form our own pop chart so the public can be involved," Mercer added.
Another element of the show would involve appearances by such veteran acts as the Rolling Stones and Madonna, possibly through interviews, performance footage or in-studio appearances, he said.
The program's final aspect would involve finding the next "Now" artists, Mercer said: "That would be new up-and-coming talent that's either already signed or just as likely not already signed."
The show's Web site will play a critical role in its development, Mercer said, adding that a section of it will be devoted to videos that people upload of themselves trying out for the show.
Although it isn't yet clear which network would air the show, 19 already has a longstanding relationship with Fox, thanks to "Idol" -- still TV's top-rated show, with 25 million viewers watching the January 27 episode -- and strong performer "Dance," which generally attracts about 10 million viewers per episode, according to Nielsen Media Research.
"'Now' is a good, existing example of the music industry working together," Fuller said. "This show will unite the whole music industry and give it one voice."
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