NBC Is Copying American Idol, Many Years Too Late

... Oh, NBC. Why, why, why? Who is in charge over there? Who keeps making these boneheaded decisions? What made you think it'd be a good idea to develop The Voice of America, a singing competition show that's intended to rival American Idol? And as Idol's clout continues to plummet, no less? We hear the show differs from the Idol format in that judges will have their backs to contestants and judge them on their voices alone. Oh, okay, because all of today's pop singers are stars because of their voices. Don't you understand that we're all shallow sheep? [The Live Feed]

... The CW has announced its midseason schedule, and there isn't a whole lot to report because little is changing. Cheerleader series Hellcats is moving to Tuesday nights beginning on January 25; it will replace Life Unexpected, which will air a two-hour season finale (the network still won't admit that it's a series finale) on January 18. Moving into the vacated Wednesday spot will be the reality series Shedding for the Wedding. [CW via press release]

... Once upon a time Adam Carolla was the host of one of the failed attempts to bring UK car show Top Gear over to the US. Now he's getting a second chance, sort of. Carolla will host a new car show for the Speed Channel that's described as a mix between Top Gear and The Best Damn Sports Show Period. [Variety]

... Casting notes: Eric Mabius (Ugly Betty) has joined TNT's Bird Dog; Carla Gallo (Men of a Certain Age, Bones, Undeclared) has signed on for the CW pilot Danni Lowinski; and Anthony Michael Hall will guest star on No Ordinary Family. [Deadline Hollywood, TV Guide]

... Ethan Hawke, his facial hair, and his many fancy hats all have an eye on the lead role in the Fox drama project Exit Strategy. It would be Hawke's first major TV role, aside from a recurring part on Alias. The series is a procedural that follows a CIA team that helps get agents to safety when CIA operations go awry. [Deadline Hollywood]

... The Amazing Race is going the route of other reality shows, giving past contestants a second shot. The 18th cycle of the reality program will bring back former contestants to trot around the globe again. And yes, they are bringing back the Ivy League a capella singers from this just-concluded season. [Hartford Courant]

... Is Gossip Girl ending? It will for Leighton Meester, at least, as the actress has decided that she is Audi 5000 when her contract is up in two years. It doesn't absolutely mean the show will die with her, but don't be surprised if other actors follow suit and move onto bigger things. Heck, Taylor Momsen left the show (and this planet) a few years ago. [E! Online]

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