Celebrity Duets cast announced

The celebrity duets on the finale of American Idol 5 were a nice way of previewing Simon Cowell’s latest FOX reality series. Celebrity Duets “pairs singing stars with celebrities outside the music industry to make beautiful music together,” according to FOX. Naturally, the series will be a competition involving viewer votes; the winner’s charity gets $100,000.

Last summer, FOX said they were spinning American Idol off into a celebrity version that would feature the same judges and a $1 million prize. But later, producers said that nothing was confirmed. Since FOX is airing this new series, that might mean they’ve given up on Celebrity Idol, although this new show is very different in format and structure.

Those singing stars are actual stars, not just D-list singers someone dragged out of detox to be on the show. Because of that, however, they won’t stick around for the entire season, as the dancing professionals do on Dancing with the Stars. Instead, the celebrity contestants “will be paired with a different recording superstar” each week, unless they get voted off. The artists scheduled to appear so far include Clint Black, Michael Bolton, Belinda Carlisle, Taylor Dayne, Peter Frampton, Macy Gray, James Ingram, Wynonna Judd, Chaka Khan, Patti LaBelle, Kenny Loggins, Richard Marx, Brian McKnight, Aaron Neville, Smokey Robinson, Randy Travis, Dionne Warwick, and Lee Ann Womack.

Simon Cowell tells TV Guide that “had to have literally the best singers in the world, we felt, and I think they’ve pretty much done that.” He says that, initially, “I truthfully did not think we were ever going to make the show” because he “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.”

Clearly, they succeeded. The celebrities, however, are a bit more C-list. They are, according to a FOX press release:

Chris Jericho (WWE World Champion), actress Lucy Lawless (“Xena: Warrior Princess,” “Battlestar Galactica”), actor Cheech Marin (“Cars,” “Nash Bridges”), 2004 Olympic Gold Medal-winning gymnast Carly Patterson, actor/director Alfonso Ribeiro (“The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air,” “All of Us”), pop culture guru Jai Rodriguez (“Queer Eye”), actor/comedian Hal Sparks (“Queer as Folk”) and actress Lea Thompson (“Back to the Future,” “Caroline in the City”)

The show debuts Aug. 29 at 8 p.m. ET, and then moves to its regular timeslot on Thursdays at 9. Results shows air Fridays at 9. It will be hosted by Wayne Brady.

…Named as Celebrities Competing for Charity on “Celebrity Duets”… [FOX press release]
Simon Spills Celebrity Duets’ Secrets [TV Guide]