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‘Superstar’ meanspirited version of ‘Idol’

Let’s concede at the outset that “American Idol” is ripe for spoofing.Between its extreme lighting, its larger-than-life judges and the manufactured urgency of its competition, it’s a huge target just waiting to be satirized. Too bad, then, that the pitiful effort of “The WB Superstar USA,” a seven-episode series that premiered Monday, fails miserably in that regard. Although it gets s
/ Source: Hollywood Reporter

Let’s concede at the outset that “American Idol” is ripe for spoofing.

Between its extreme lighting, its larger-than-life judges and the manufactured urgency of its competition, it’s a huge target just waiting to be satirized. Too bad, then, that the pitiful effort of “The WB Superstar USA,” a seven-episode series that premiered Monday, fails miserably in that regard. Although it gets some elements right and there is no end to the slick production values, the overall mean-spirited and dishonest nature of the production makes it one of the more loathsome unscripted shows to smear the small screen.

The idea is to create an “American Idol” in reverse, with the winner being the worst singer. Of course, since only the chronically desperate would try out for such a contest, “The WB Superstar USA” posed as a real talent hunt, enabling it to attract (and dupe) throngs of eager young contestants in city after city.

“People said we couldn’t do it. People said we shouldn’t do it. But we did it,” host Brian McFayden boasted at the outset of the premiere. If only the WB had listened to the people...

Fleiss and company even lied at one point to the studio audience, though it won’t be in the series. To keep audience members from booing and hooting the obviously awful performances, a producer announced that the contestants were terminally ill beneficiaries of the Make-A-Wish Foundation. A spokesman for the WB later apologized for the remark but not, regrettably, for the show itself.

Small wonder that the WB, which sent out tapes of one of its new fall drama series before it even announced its fall schedule, declined to mail out review copies of this mess.

Is this a sign of the collapse of Western civilization? Hardly. If Western civilization could withstand Fleiss’ other shows, going all the way back to the misbegotten “Who Wants to Marry a Multi-Millionaire,” it should have no trouble shrugging off this one. Still, it can’t be beneficial to have an influential network treat dishonesty, deception and a blatant disregard for the feelings of others as nothing more than benign entertainment.

The five remaining episodes air from 9-10 p.m. May 24, 25 and 31 and June 7 and 14.