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'Bandstand' Dancing To New Tune

"American Bandstand" is coming back with a new twist, courtesy of the producer of "American Idol."

A revamped version, from original producer-host Dick Clark and "American Idol" creator Simon Fuller, will turn the show's trademark dancing into a regular competition.

In the original, 1950s-era show, studio audience members who did the twist, the swim and other hot dances were aiming to impress the audience, Fuller said Monday.

"We're going to have a lot more fun in that area. The public will be involved in choosing which of the kids is the coolest, the most gorgeous, the best dancer," he said.

He knows more than a bit about contests: "American Idol," which wraps its third season Wednesday with a showdown between Fantasia Barrino and Diana DeGarmo, is a hit for Fox and has produced fledgling recording stars such as Clay Aiken and Ruben Studdard.

Clark said he's eager to see the program return, whether or not it becomes the pop culture force it once was.

"I wanted, ever since the show left the air, to find a way and a time and a place to bring it back," Clark said Monday.

Can the resurrected show work today? "If you think about it, 'American Bandstand' was probably the original reality show. And to bring it back in the throes of excitement about reality isn't a bad idea," he said.

The original show had occasional dance contests, Clark noted, with the prizes gradually increasing in value from records to juke boxes to cars.

On the new "American Bandstand," performances by pop stars and the old show's "rate-a-record" segments will remain in the mix, Fuller said.

"American Bandstand" was one of network television's longest-running series as part of ABC's daytime lineup from 1957 to 1987. It later ran for a year in syndication and briefly on the USA Network with another host.

Pop singers would visit to perform — or lip synch — their latest record and chat with Clark. The audience helped critique songs on a point system, a show trademark.

Whether performers on the new show perform live or to a recording will be left up to them, Fuller said: "I'm a firm believer it should be left up to the artist to choose."

Clark, now 74, will be a producer but won't return as on-air steward of the new "Bandstand," which is scheduled to debut in summer 2005, most likely on a network and definitely in prime-time, Fuller said.

A search for a replacement host is under way and Fuller hinted at more than one opening: Although the show will be largely Los Angeles-based it will break away to other cities, such as Miami, to sample the scenes there.

Fuller and Clark will serve as executive producers through Fuller's 19 Entertainment and Clark's production company, joined by Allen Shapiro of Mosaic Media Group, the controlling shareholder in Clark's firm.

Besides creating the "American Idol" format, born in Britain as "Pop Idol," Fuller managed Annie Lennox's solo career and the Spice Girls. The hit Fox talent contest has expanded his talent roster, with all "American Idol" performers contracted to 19 Entertainment.

Clark's production company handles a number of specials and awards shows, including the American Music Awards, the Golden Globe ceremony and the Daytime Emmy Awards.

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