The reality-TV show "American Idol" proved that legions of youngsters are burning to be singing stars, and millions are willing to watch them try. To the surprise of "Idol" judge Simon Cowell, there's no shortage of inventors, either. "There are probably more people sitting on a great idea or invention than there are singers," says Mr. Cowell. To draw them out, he's helped create another reality series, "American Inventor."
The ABC show seeks to uncover an innovative product, with 12 finalists each given $50,000 to develop an invention. The format of the show echoes that of "American Idol," with weekly demonstrations of a product's development and evaluations by judges, except this show will broadcast only the finale live. The winner gets $1 million. Rights will be shared among the winning inventor, Walt Disney's ABC and the show's production companies, FreeMantle Media NA and Psycho Television.
Thousands of inventors applied to be part of the show, but only amateurs made the cut, and the inventors couldn't hold a job that would let them put their product into development. "We're looking for a typical guy in America who's got an idea," Mr. Cowell says, though he adds that some of the ideas are "truly hideous."
("American Inventor," ABC, Thursday 3-16-2006, 8-10 p.m. EST; thereafter, Thursdays at 9 p.m. EST)