May 7, 2008
“The reason their ratings are going into the toilet right now is because the American public cannot stand when it comes to reality,” Rich said. “You can tell when somebody’s comment was scripted. You can tell when they told an artist, ‘Wear this, and sing that, and do that.’ That’s not the way it’s going to work on this show,” he said of “Nashville Star.”
Rich was on a panel promoting the NBC show during the network’s summer programming event for the press. He is a judge and mentor on the upcoming sixth season of the show, which has moved from USA Network to NBC this year.
“We have to respect the fans’ ears and eyes and give them something that’s for real,” he added. “Don’t try to con them. And I think that’s why ‘American Idol,’ in my opinion, is just dive-bombing. I can’t stand watching it. I wouldn’t want to be on that show now if you gave me a $100 bill.”
American Idol has produced legitimate country stars in Carrie Underwood, Kellie Pickler and Bucky Covington, along with a respectable showing by Josh Gracin. Certainly a stronger cabal than Nashville Star can claim, a show that hasn’t produced a star since Season 1 gave us Miranda Lambert and the long gone Buddy Jewell.
But I find it especially ludicrous for Rich to claim the high ground on reality talent competitions, after overseeing the train wreck that was Gone Country. Rich has a problem with artists being told “Wear this, do this and sing that?” After he made artists shovel manure and cook for his grandma so they could understand what it means to be country? It may have been the highest-rated show in CMT history, but it was because of the spectacle, not the music. Or did winner Julio Iglesias, Jr. score a big radio hit when I wasn’t looking?
And the train wreck is sure to be bigger and better this summer, when Season 2 of Gone Country launches in August. I’m sure he can show Jermaine Jackson and Sebastian Bach how to be serious country artists. There must be some horrible country stereotype he hasn’t exploited yet. Maybe he’ll have them make out with their cousins?