From Publishers Weekly
Rushfield begins with an overview of producer Simon Fuller, whose 2001 U.K. launch of Pop Idol came to the States as American Idol on the Fox network. The show combined several key factors: viewer voting, the "audition from hell" process, and a panel of judges that included the abrasive "dasher of dreams," Simon Cowell, who received much press coverage as "Mr. Nasty." For the American version, Fox insisted on the affable Randy Jackson as a "counterweight" to the caustic Cowell. Amid unknowns, Paula Abdul began as "the show's real star," generating a "love/hate chemistry" with Cowell. Within months, 26 million viewers were tuning in. Going season by season, Rushfield covers top finalists and winners, backstage intrigues, record deals, media coverage, fan fiction, and Web sites, lawsuits, and contractual conflicts, as well as Abdul's antics and departure. Rushfield explores the lives of the finalists after the Idol tours, making for a poignant closing chapter. A former Los Angeles Times columnist, Rushfield spent three years covering the show, and his many interviews with the show's cast and crew provide a genuine "insider" flavor. Diehard fans will appreciate both the deep background material and the behind-the-scenes gossip. (Feb.)
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
The subtitle is not entirely accurate. A lot of this story has been told before, and devout fans of the popular television series might occasionally find themselves in familiar territory; for instance, the scandal surrounding the elimination of future Oscar winner Jennifer Hudson and the conspiracy theory that sprang up after Ryan Seacrest accidentally misstated the vote margin between a winner and a runner-up. But Rushfield, an entertainment reporter who’s covered the show since its inception, does spend time on some of the darker and less-publicized elements of the show, such as the way “spontaneous” remarks are sometimes scripted, how “candid” exchanges are reshot to alter dialogue, and the way the judges, by their on-air comments, can influence how viewers will vote. Ultimately, Rushfield presents American Idol pretty fairly, as a show that can be about genuine talent but can also be about audience manipulation and manufactured scandal. Should draw readers from among both fans and critics of the show. --David Pitt