Judgment day for Keith
American Idol ... from left: Randy Jackson, Mariah Carey, Ryan Seacrest, Nicky Minaj and Keith Urban.
Is ''the Keith effect'' about to enthral Australian television audiences again, even though Keith Urban is appearing on an all-American show?
This week on American and Australian television Urban will make his first appearance as a judge on American Idol - wedged between the fiery divas, Mariah Carey and Nicki Minaj, with Idol veteran Randy Jackson along for the ride.
It seems astonishing now that Urban had to be convinced by his wife, Nicole Kidman, to appear on Australian television, in his coaching role on Channel Nine's The Voice. As we all know now, Kidman was right.
Urban was a natural on screen, hugely popular with Australian audiences. As a result he has entered the big league of American television with his key role on American Idol.
Just how the laid-back Urban will fare on American Idol remains to be seen. It might be the 12th season of the show in the US but the theatrics between Carey and Minaj are already making headlines and causing a big Twitter buzz before the show has gone to air. It's a long way from the cosy artist love-in between Urban, Seal, Delta Goodrem and Joel Madden on The Voice.
Urban is happy being positioned as the nice guy on the show - he often sat between Carey and Minaj on the judging panel during the audition process and taping late last year.
He has already jokingly referred to himself as the peacekeeper between the two women. It's the kind of publicity television executives love, ahead of a show's launch.
The great news for Australian viewers is that the first episode will be aired here only hours after the US, with Channel Ten determined to capture a strong market with the fresh American offering.
Urban, who will return to Australia in late January for a national tour, has been spruiking the show to American reporters and making comparisons to his own extraordinary journey from Caboolture in Queensland to the top of the American charts.
''American Idol really personifies the American dream,'' he told US television network Great American Country. ''It is what brought me all the way to America.
''It completely provides that for someone who's come from nothing. They just have raw talent and a hunger and a desire to become a real artist, and the show completely gives them that chance.''
Urban was immersed in heavy promotions for the show last week, including a scheduled Q&A session with cinema audiences across the US (who got to see a sneak preview of the first episode). That's all before the actual airing of the show on Fox in the US on January 16.
Episode one of American Idol screens on Thursday at 7.30pm on Channel Ten, with episode two on Friday at 8.30pm.
Seeing stars, sort of
To give them some credit, the contestants have already joked about it in the promo, but let's be honest: why is The Block: All Stars called ''all stars'' at all?
There really does appear to be a strange combination of contestants for the Nine show, which is being heavily promoted on air at present.
The producers have picked some of the least-expected pairs: Dani (known for her diva theatrics) and her calming partner Dan (which feels like a direct flashback to last year's television programming); Phil and Amity (who in 2003 came fourth in the first and, admittedly, were widely known at the time), in a family-friendly move; trendy married couple Josh and Jenna
(it feels as though we saw them on telly only recently); and jovial, moustached blokes Mark and Duncan from season three (who?).
Even on the official website for the show, viewers are asked if they ''need a refresher'' on the contestants involved. Surely if they were actually ''all stars'', Nine wouldn't have to do any explaining.
Mind you, the massive viewer numbers from past seasons of The Block proves Aussies just love watching other people - anyone really - renovating.
Here's hoping this season will be propped up by great challenges and insanely difficult renovations (as always) but before it goes to air, one wonders whether Nine should rightfully change the title to ''The Block: Cast-Offs''.
The cost factor
Fans of The X Factor will be interested to hear the performers from last year's smash hit season of the show are on the road with The X Factor Live Tour.
But for more than $70 a ticket, will their popularity on screen translate to fans digging into their pockets and paying money to see the performers live?
It is the first time there has been a live national tour involving the finalists from the Channel Seven series (although other talent contestants have occasionally appeared in the same kind of production).
There will be replica X Factor stage created for the production, with a headline performance by winner Samantha Jade plus artists well recognised from the finals, including the Collective, Jason Owen, Bella Ferraro, Shiane Hawke and Nathaniel Willemse.
The Sydney show is on Friday night at the Hordern Pavilion.
Amid the hype leading up to tomorrow morning's Golden Globes (Australian time) and, of course, the Oscars, the ABC deserves a big bravo for running its new reality series Next Stop Hollywood, which airs on Tuesday nights.
It is a show that follows the dreams of six Australian actors as they chase fame in the US. There is no pulling punches, though, about the uphill battle they face.
None of the actors is short on self-belief (which is a good start) but the difficulties they face and the competition from other wannabe actors (who have migrated to Hollywood from all over the world) is eye-opening.
The ABC is also pushing the show heavily on social media, with out-takes being screened on its official website and clips on YouTube.
Next Stop Hollywood airs on ABC 1 on Tuesday nights at 9.30pm.