Showtime has caught American Idol syndrome, rap flavor.
The Viacom Inc.-owned premium channel will launch
Interscope Presents The Next
in October, a talent search program covering the hip-hop scene.
Over the course of six one-hour episodes, 10 budding rap artists will compete
for national notoriety, plus a prize combination to be determined later.
A record contract is one of the prizes under consideration.
Interscope Records will co-produce The Next with Showtime, with Interscope
chairman Jimmy Iovine serving as an executive producer.
Two rappers will face off in an event covered in each episode, taking place
in New York, Los Angeles, Detroit, Atlanta and Philadelphia.
The winner of each event will reconnect in Los Angeles for a final showdown.
Unlike Idol, Star Search or other talent showcases running on cable and
broadcast channels the last two years, phone votes from viewers or celebrity
judges will not determine the outcome.
Audience reaction at each event will be the only factor, show producers
Each episode will contain segments on the contestants' lifestyles and