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Monday, 29 April, 2002, 07:54 GMT 08:54 UK
US starts Pop Idol search
American Idol on Fox
American Idol will hit US screens in June
Budding music stars in the United States have had their first chance to take part in Pop Idol, the talent search that became a TV phenomenon in the UK.

Called American Idol: The Search for a Superstar, thousands of US hopefuls are being judged by a panel of experts, including Simon Cowell, the record executive who was labelled the "Mr Nasty" of the UK show.

Paula Abdul
Paula Abdul is on the judging panel
He is joined by 1980s star Paula Abdul and Randy Jackson, of MCA records, to give their opinions on thousands of young singers.

The first rounds of auditions were taking place on Monday in New York, and have already been held in Los Angeles, Chicago and Seattle.

Abdul, who had hits with Straight Up and Opposites Attract, said: "We're looking for good voice, presentation and confidence."

Pop Idol was billed in the US as "the biggest thing to hit Great Britain since The Beatles".

"It really was a phenomenon, and we are hoping we can only have some of their success," according to Mike Darnell from TV network Fox.

UK contestants Gareth Gates (left) and Will Young
UK contestants Gareth Gates (left) and Will Young both hit number one
The UK show's winner Will Young went on to break the record for the fastest-selling single in chart history.

It became a national talking point and the final attracted more than 13 million viewers and a record 8.7 million phone votes.

The show's success was recognised on Sunday when it won the prestigious Golden Rose at Montreux for overall best programme.

American Idol is being made by the same people that made Pop Idol, led by pop supremo and former Spice Girls manager Simon Fuller.

The US series is reported to be worth $50m (35m) to Fuller.

As in the UK version, the prize for the winner is a contract with record company BMG, and if the show is a success, they are likely to become instant stars.

Simon Cowell
Simon Cowell became a star after the UK show
"When I dreamt up the idea of Pop Idol, I always saw it is a global concept, and I'm so delighted to see it being made for America," Fuller has said.

US viewers will see the new show on Fox from 11 June.

Talent search shows have had success in the US in the past - pop group O-Town came out of the show Making the Band, but the groups formed on two series of Popstars have not yet made the big time.

Several countries have already screened their own versions of Pop Idol - including Spain, where the show broke the record for the biggest ever TV audience.

France's Star Academy has also been a hit, while the third series of Popstars in Australia has been searching for just one winner.

Pop Idol will follow successful UK TV exports including Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? and The Weakest Link.

See also:

21 Mar 02 | TV and Radio
US gets Pop Idol
27 Apr 02 | TV and Radio
Pop Idol wins Golden Rose of Montreux
24 Apr 02 | TV and Radio
Cowell to write stardom manual
24 Mar 02 | Music
Pop Idol's Gareth is number one
15 Mar 02 | Reviews
Glossy debut for Pop Idol stars
23 Jan 02 | TV and Radio
Pop Idol: What's all the fuss about?
12 Feb 02 | Media reports
Spanish pop show breaks the record
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