Thursday, 4:30 PM
"Idol" camp comes to Bay State
By Joanna Weiss, Globe Staff
Think of it as "American Idol," the nice version, for children.
FremantleMedia, the coproducer of the television juggernaut "American Idol," announced today that it is sponsoring its first-ever Idol Camp in Massachusetts.
Beginning in early July, 700 youngsters ages 12 to 15 will rotate through Northfield, a Berkshires town of 2,950, for a series of 10-day sessions. They will learn vocal performance, choreography, set-building, music video production, and the basics of auditioning, with helpful tips from stylists. Theyíll get visits from celebrities and former "Idol" contestants.
What they wonít do, Fremantle officials insist, is sing to get in. The applications, which become available tomorrow, will be essay-based and judged by educators. And the sessions wonít end with contests or judging, or, as the campís marketing literature makes clear, the promise that attendance will help one bit with "American Idol" auditions.
"Itís structured to provide an inspiring environment thatís all about self-esteem, self-empowerment, self-expression, and friendship," said Felicity Carr, the companyís director of sponsorship and live events, who said that Fremantle hopes to "build Idol Camp as an inspirational brand extension."
But itís also a brand inversion, given the trappings of the television show, which tops the ratings for children and teens. From the bad singers paraded through cattle-call auditions to the nationwide voting that commenced this week, the hallmarks of "Idol" are tough competition, unflinching judges, and harsh truths.
Itís a good bet that youngsters will come to Idol Camp with the show in mind, said Jake Halpern, the author of "Fame Junkies: The Hidden Truths Behind Americaís Favorite Addiction."
Saying the camp wonít promote competition is "like having a military boot camp where they teach people to fire a gun, but saying, 'Oh, weíre actually pacifists,'" Halpern said. "Everyone knows what ĎAmerican Idolí stands for."