American Idol premiered on FOX on June 11, 2002. It is a reality television show which focuses on the search for the country’s next big pop star. It began as a spinoff of British producer Simon Fuller’s hit show Pop Idol and subsequently became one of the most popular shows in the history of American TV. Idol’s format involves having three or four celebrity judges audition thousands of would-be contestants in the hopes of finding as-yet-untapped singing talent; once the judges’ choices are narrowed down, viewers vote on the remaining contestants each week, eliminating them one at a time until a final winner is chosen. The show’s three original judges were Simon Cowell, Paula Abdul and Randy Jackson; Paula left the show in 2009, Simon left in 2010 and judges Ellen DeGeneres and Kara DioGuardi appeared for one and two seasons, respectively, before also leaving the show. Season 10 will premiere in January 2011, featuring celebrity judges Jennifer Lopez, Steven Tyler and Randy Jackson. The show has been hosted throughout its long run by popular TV and radio personality Ryan Seacrest. History has shown that Idol has a winning formula: It has launched the careers of such Grammy-winning (and/or nominated) stars Kelly Clarkson, Chris Daughtry and Carrie Underwood, and Oscar-winning actress Jennifer Hudson.
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