Go right ahead and pencil in Celebrity Duets as a fall hit already. How come? Because it's being produced by the man with the golden reality TV touch.
Yes, American Idol judge and British blowhard, Simon Cowell, is at it again. TV Guide recently sat down and chatted with Paula Abdul's best friend ...
Q: You have to be over the moon about the talent you've gotten together for this show.
Cowell: Yes, we are. I've got to be honest with you, I truthfully did not think we were ever going to make the show, and I'll tell you why: We basically said to the producers, "If you can find us 10 legendary names for this show, we're going to make it, and if you don't, we can't." And I gave them a 10 percent chance of proceeding.
Q: Because this doesn't work if the pros are chumps.
Cowell: Absolutely. We had to have literally the best singers in the world, we felt, and I think they've pretty much done that.
Q: Will each week's performance night be taped, or broadcast live?
Cowell: That's a very good question. I think it's going to be shot as all live.
Q: And what's the judging setup? Who have we got?
Cowell: Well, I can tell you exclusively that we have just signed Little Richard. I'm really thrilled, we're very happy. We've also got [music producer] David Foster, and we have one more to fill. I think I know who it is, but it's not confirmed yet.
Q: I'm guessing it will be a female?
Cowell: Looks like it, yeah, and she will be well known. David was the first choice and then somebody said to me recently, "What about Little Richard? You'll never get him, but give it a go." Well, we've confirmed him. It's great news, and it all adds to the craziness of the show.
Q: Will the duets have to tackle different musical styles each week?
Cowell: Eventually, as the show narrows down, it will become themed. On the first show they're going to sing two songs each, so they will have to choose two different disciplines on the first night - like, an up-tempo song and a ballad, or a rock song and a country song. (The Gossip can't wait to see former WWE star, Chris Jericho, go country.)
Q: Will the pairings always be male-female?
Cowell: Not necessarily, no.
Q: Is there anything else that has not yet been reported? Any scoop?
Cowell: Yes, we just confirmed Gladys Knight as one of the singers.
Q: Aren't the celebrities going to get nervous now, seeing the heavyweights they'll be partnering with?
Cowell: Oh god, yeah. This would be hard enough if we were asking them to sing on their own. But add in the fact that you're singing with Smokey Robinson, Gladys Night, Patti Labelle .... It's a nightmare.