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Risky gambits pay off

/ 07:09 PM July 02, 2011

When “American Idol” decided last season to lower its minimum age requirement to only 15, some observers feared that it would open the show up to too many raw and undisciplined talents. But when some of the better “tweeners” started performing, they impressed both jurors and viewers. They came across as young but compleat professionals.

Best of all, when the smoke cleared towards the end of this year’s finals, the two remaining bets, Scotty McCreery and Lauren Alaina, were among the youngest bets this season. Yet they beat the more mature and experienced “tweenteeners” they were competing against – proving that while experience is key, youthful talent and exuberance are more potent “insurance” factors for success.

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Self-fulfilling

To be sure, the fact that the talent tilt is designed to appeal to a target audience of teenage females contains the seeds of what we could call a self-fulfilling prophecy: Teen girls go for frisky and cute boy-next-door types, so Scotty is the perfect, aw-shucks, down-home-on-the-farm embodiment of that breathless female fantasy.

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Trouble is, that excessively specific preference could end up limiting the kinds of talents that the show can discover, and predictability is the mortal enemy of true artistry.

We hope, therefore, that even as young bets continue to dominate “American Idol” in seasons to come, it can also discover excitingly “different” bets who may not end up as absolute winners at the end of the competition, but will, as Jennifer Hudson, Clay Aiken and a few others have done, emerge as “uncrowned” but authentic idols and stars in their own right, even if they’re no longer teenagers.

Other gambits

Other successful show biz gambits:

When Sandara Park went home to Korea “to study” and to get away from a number of sticky and hurtful situations in local show business, many cynical observers nixed her future prospects as a performer.

In time, however, word reached us that her efforts to revive her singing career had borne fruit, because she had been tapped to join the K–Pop group 2NE1. Later, the group became popular, and even performed recently in the Philippines, and Sandara had a great time looking up her old friends and haunts.

As for her foes and other people who wish her nothing but ill, they can just eat their hearts out!

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Effective, too, is ABS–CBN’s decision to field pert, little Xyriel Manabat as Coney Reyes’ mini-me in the ongoing teleserye “100 Days (To Heaven).” As the show continues to unreel, Xyriel’s participation and dialogue are increasing in length and complexity, but she’s still able to keep up with her role’s demands.

It’s clear that, unlike other child talents who automatically go “pa-cute,” Xyriel understands what she and her character are supposed to do.

That’s a decided plus that should make her an in-demand talent in show biz seasons to come.

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TAGS: American Idol, Entertainment, Sandara Park, Television, Xyriel Manabat
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