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The history of American Idol from Wikipedia.
American Idol, titled American Idol: The Search for a Superstar for the first season, is a reality television singing competition created by Simon Fuller and produced by FremantleMedia North America and 19 Entertainment. It began airing on Fox on June 11, 2002, as an addition to the Idol franchise based on the UK show Pop Idol, and has since become one of the most successful shows in the history of American television. It was the most watched TV series from 2005 to 2011 in the Nielsen ratings, and it is the only program to have been number one for seven consecutive seasons.
The concept of the series is to find new solo recording artists where the winner is determined by the viewers. Winners chosen by viewers through telephone, Internet, and SMS text voting were Kelly Clarkson, Ruben Studdard, Fantasia Barrino, Carrie Underwood, Taylor Hicks, Jordin Sparks, David Cook, Kris Allen, Lee DeWyze, Scotty McCreery and Phillip Phillips.
The series employs a panel of judges who critique the contestants' performances. The original three judges were record producer and music manager Randy Jackson, pop singer and choreographer Paula Abdul and music executive and manager Simon Cowell. The judging panel currently consists of Jackson, American singer Mariah Carey, Trinidadian-American hip hop artist Nicki Minaj, and Australian/New Zealander singer Keith Urban. The series is emceed by radio personality Ryan Seacrest.
The series was described by a rival TV executive as "the most impactful show in the history of television." It has also become a recognized springboard for launching the career of many artists as bona fide stars. According to Billboard, in its first ten years, "Idol has spawned 345 Billboard chart-toppers and a platoon of pop idols, including Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood, Daughtry, Fantasia, Ruben Studdard, Jennifer Hudson, Clay Aiken, Adam Lambert and Jordin Sparks while remaining TV ratings juggernaut."
American Idol was created based on the British show Pop Idol, which was in turn inspired by Popstars, a show TV producer Nigel Lythgoe saw in Australia and brought over to Britain. Using the idea from Popstars of employing a panel of judges to select singers in audition, then adding other elements such as telephone voting by the viewing public (which at the time was already in use in shows such as the Eurovision Song Contest) and the drama of backstories and real-life soap opera unfolding in real time, Simon Fuller then created Pop Idol. The show debuted in 2001 in Britain with Lythgoe as the producer and Simon Cowell as one of the judges, and was a big success with the viewing public.
Fuller and Cowell attempted to sell the Pop Idol format to the U.S. in 2001, but the idea was met with poor response from U.S. TV networks. However, Rupert Murdoch, head of Fox's parent company, was persuaded to buy the show by his daughter Elisabeth, who was a fan of the British show. The show was renamed American Idol: The Search for a Superstar and debuted in the summer of 2002, and became one of the summer hit shows that year.
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