Best "Unreal" Reality Show or Best Reality Show Spin-off

KVUE's Gimme the Mike!

Did Fox's American Idol deserve the flattery of this kind of imitation? Austin's homage, Gimme the Mike!, followed its more famous predecessor's formula, but took the high road by reversing the trend of most spin-offs: being more wholesome and less complicated than its inspiration. Admittedly, this squeaky-clean approach made for a less desperate fan base, as the Austin version lacked American Idol's main draw: its bitchy judges. Local celebrity judges Mark Murray, Sara Hickman, and Danny Levin could not toss off an insult to save their lives, bless their little hearts. Instead, they focused on the positives, complimenting stage presence if the pitch was off, or tone when the performance was lackluster. Host Michael Jenkins did his best Ryan Seacrest, pretending to hit on contestants. Rounding out the team was perky and pun-happy Quita Culpepper interviewing guests backstage. Through the somewhat saccharine yet always genuine excitement, the show did a great job of exposing local talent. Wardrobes were provided by local clothing boutiques, and the grand prize was a professionally recorded demo and eight weeks of music-business classes at an Austin area music institute.

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