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Television: Idol Gives Back on the Way:

It’s been a year since American Idol gave back to the tune of $76 million.  This year, they hope to top their astonishing take when Idol contestants and celebrities come together for charity. 

The show airs Tuesday, with the likes of Robin Williams, Celine Dion, Forest Whitaker, Billy Crystal, Dane Cook, Kiefer Sutherland, Vanessa Hudgens, Ashley Tisdale, Jennifer Connolly, Amy Adams, Bono, Brad Pitt, Reese Witherspoon, Miley Cyrus, Mariah Carey, Eli Manning, Peyton Manning, Fergie, Chris Daughtry, Carrie Underwood, Annie Lennox, John Legend, Snoop Dogg, Maroon 5, Heart, and Gloria Estefan.

American Idol is still one of the more suspenseful television shows, and completely dominates the reality genre.  This year, the show seems a lot whiter and a lot more bland than in recent years.  Perhaps that means another Carrie Underwood will be born in Kristy Lee Cook or Brooke White. 

Although all signs seem to point to the young David Archuleta for the big win, the Idol works in mysterious ways.  With Archuleta leading the pack, the already young Idol audience is bound to be more kid-friendly than in recent years, a reliable way for Idol to continue to cash in for decades to come. 

There is never a guarantee that an Idol winner will go on to have a flourishing recording career.  A few of them have gone on to be successful, but some have won the big prize only to be faced with a fickle public who likes a good show and a tense competition but isn’t willing to actually buy the records of their favorite singer.  Taylor Hicks is probably the best example, being that he was America’s favorite, but the moment the show was over, so was his career.  Meanwhile, runner-up Katherine McPhee seems to be the one who will thrive in an industry that really wants them young and pretty, even if they pretend otherwise.

Even Kelly Clarkson, who had such a great start, seems to have faltered in recent years for not playing the game the way the record executives want her to play the game.  Idol has figured out how to give the public what they want, but it is within a prescribed formula.  Remove the formula and what do you have? 

Those who follow the script appear to have longevity, like Underwood or Clay Aiken.  Perhaps the upcoming Idols will take that as a lesson; don’t risk what you can’t afford to lose.  Fame is a dirty game, and it’s hardest on the youngest ones.  At least with Idol Gives Back, the whole sleazy enterprise gets across a valuable message to its many fans: giving is as important as getting.

Idol Gives Back is a “music celebration raising awareness and benefiting various U.S. and international charities.”  Some of the charities to receive a share of the profits include The Children’s Health Fund, Children’s Defense Fund, The Global Fund, Make It Right, Malaria No More, and Save the Children’s U.S. Program.  It is probably the best way for Idol to set a good example as they rake in the bucks completely unchallenged in the ratings war. 

Exxon and News Corporation are backing the fund-raiser and also donating money to cover the event, which was open to the public last week. 

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