Open­ing in re­al­ity of­fers big breaks

A new show gives un­knowns a chance to share with the stars, writes

The Gold Coast Bulletin - Play Magazine - - TUESDAY EXTRA -

YOU’RE a strug­gling US mu­si­cian, then one day you’re in­vited to be the open­ing act for Lady Gaga at a concert in Aus­tralia. And it’s not a joke.

El­e­vat­ing an un­known artist into the realm of the rock’n’roll world is the ba­sis of the re­al­ity tele­vi­sion show Open­ing Act, which starts on E! on Septem­ber 25.

Be­hind it is English­man Nigel Lyth­goe, who pro­duced Pop Idol and Amer­i­can Idol, as well as be­ing a cre­ator of So You Think You Can Dance.

Un­like other re­al­ity tal­ent quests, this one has no vot­ing, no au­di­tions, no soppy back story and no en­tries per­mit­ted.

It’s the show where the win­ner is an­nounced at the start and the se­lected artist or artists have just five days to get it to­gether for their big break.

Lyth­goe and his de­vel­op­ment team, which in­cludes Grammy win­ner Mary J. Blige, An­ton­ina Ar­mato, Pete Wentz and Martina McBride, sift through count­less YouTube clips to find suit­able acts to open con­certs for some of the big­gest names in the mu­sic in­dus­try. The artist is then popped the ques­tion.

‘‘There is just five days be­tween when we knock on their door and say ‘you are very good’ in your front room but in five days time we are fly­ing you to Aus­tralia to open for Lady Gaga,’’ Lyth­goe says.

‘‘Most of those five days is taken up with the flight in the first place.’’

Among the artists Lyth­goe must find open­ing acts for are Rod Ste­wart, Lady Gaga, for her re­cent tour in Aus­tralia, LMFAO and Ja­son Mraz.

Yet find­ing some­one suit­able on YouTube is a far cry from meet­ing them in per­son: Says Lyth­goe: ‘‘One group, Joy Is­land, are what we call a real rock’n’roll party band, and they start drink­ing when they wake up.

‘‘When you look at some­one on the in­ter­net you don’t know that’s what they’re like and we had to kick their a--e and say ‘you have to knuckle down here’.

‘‘We didn’t know the kid who opened for Gaga was a Je­ho­vah’s Wit­ness and his mum was dead against it. We opened up Pan­dora’s box and that is what makes in­trigu­ing tele­vi­sion.’’

The ex­pe­ri­ence is in­valu­able for the young artists who can boast about their ex­pe­ri­ence and use it as a sell­ing point down the track.

How­ever, all of those cho­sen went through an emo­tional roller­coaster, from the high of be­ing cho­sen to the low of doubt­ing their ca­pa­bil­i­ties, Lyth­goe says.

‘‘You al­ways have to re­mem­ber the open­ing act is al­ways the worst place to be be­cause 50 per cent of the au­di­ence is out hav­ing a drink and the other 50 per cent never came to see you in the first place.

‘‘Ev­ery sin­gle act they play for was once an open­ing act for some­one else when they started so it’s them (Lady Gaga, Ste­wart and the likes) be­liev­ing they are giv­ing back to the in­dus­try.’’

9.30pm, E!

Tuesdays,

Lady Gaga and Nigel Lyth­goe.

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