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America's got talent...

Posted by Joanna Weiss  June 22, 2006 10:51 AM

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...and I've got a headache.

I haven't worked my way through the full two hours of last night's "American Idol" knockoff on NBC, but I already have impressions. This show is more manic than "Idol" -- the difference between Regis Philbin and Ryan Seacrest, between riding on top of the world and trying hard to get there -- and it comes across as exhausting.

I don't love the "Idol" audition episodes. I think they're mean. But there's something comforting, at least, about the ritual nature of it all. You know what they're doing and what they're building up to. Last night's "Talent" premiere was a mix of the audition rounds, Hollywood week, "The Price is Right" and "The Gong Show;" the producers crammed a bunch of contestants into an auditorium, where they cheered and booed each other. Because there's no single industry represented -- I watched an a capella act, a "professional snapper," a guy who performed several songs on bicycle horns, and an eight-year-old doing racially-tinged stand-up comedy -- the judges don't provide any particular expertise. And they came across as shadows of the "Idol" judges. David Hasselhoff is too...Hasselhoff. Brandy is too articulate. And memo to Piers: Just because you're British, that doesn't mean you're Simon.

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Katie McLeod is Boston.com's features editor.

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