Reality Rocks - Archive

Is Kara DioGuardi The Reason ‘Platinum Hit’ Failed?

Lyndsey Parker
Reality Rocks

Kara DioGuardi may have been polarizing on "American Idol"--she's still trying to live down the failed "No Boundaries" song she wrote for Kris Allen, and any number of factual gaffes she made during her critiques--but in the end, I liked her. She had real music industry experience. She didn't sugar-coat her remarks, or even saccharine-coat them. Once she was gone and the "Idol" panel got all cuddly and ineffective, I missed her. So when Kara landed her own post-"Idol" show on Bravo, "Platinum Hit," a sort of "Project Runway"-style reality competition for aspiring songwriters, I looked forward to it. But apparently I was the only one, as it now appears that Kara was even more polarizing than I'd assumed.

"Platinum Hit" is quite possibly the biggest flop in recent Bravo TV history. When it premiered on May 30, it did not even make the top 100 list of cable programs for the night, with only 823,000 viewers tuning in. Ratings kept steeply declining from there, and after five episodes aired in its original Monday timeslot, Bravo moved the show to the TV graveyard--i.e., to Friday night. So I turned to my colleague Matt Whitfield--Yahoo! TV editor, Television Critics Association member, Bravo expert, and seemingly the only person watching "Platinum Hit" besides me--for his take. He told me, "This is the first time, to my knowledge, when Bravo has dumped one of its newer programs on a night with no viewers."

The last time "Platinum Hit" aired on a Monday night, it drew only 397,000 viewers, abysmal numbers "not seen since before Bravo got big in 2002 with 'Queer Eye For The Straight Guy,'" according to Matt. While Bravo reps haven't yet confirmed that "Platinum Hit" will not be back for a second season, the (song)writing is on the wall. "This is awful for Bravo. 'The Real Housewives Of D.C.' was cancelled, and it averaged 900,000 viewers per episode," Matt said, putting things in perspective.

Thankfully, "Platinum Hit" hasn't been entirely cancelled mid-season, so the 397,000-and-dwindling of us who actually enjoy it, and remember to reset our DVRs for Friday, can still find out which of the remaining six contestants will win the show's (presumably still up-for-grabs) $100,000 prize and publishing deal. I actually think it's a quality show, and I believe it could have had all the makings of a reality hit. Bravo has always done this type of programming well; this is the network that has fascinatingly chronicled the creative process on ventures like "Project Runway," "Shear Genius," and "Top Chef," after all. And considering how important professional songwriters are to the music business--very few pop stars write their own hits nowadays, at least not without help--I thought a peek behind the songwriting scenes would make for interesting TV.

Plus, the cast comprises all the necessary characters for reality drama: a villain (nasty emo boy Nick), a diva (the cocky Sonyae), a showmance (between indie cuties Jes and Johnny), and even a former "Idol" contestant (the always entertaining Jackie Tohn). It has also featured some very credible guest judges, like Natasha Bedingfield, Donna Summer, Jermaine Dupri, Rodney Jerkins, and hit songwriters Bonnie McKee and Ryan Tedder. And it's hosted by Jewel. So what went wrong?

"Platinum Hit" certainly wasn't under-promoted by Bravo. It seemed like several months of my life went by when I couldn't drive two city blocks without Kara DioGuardi's face peering at me from a "Platinum Hit" billboard, sniping poster, or the side of a bus. But maybe that was the problem. Maybe too many people wanted to see her fail. Maybe if Bravo had emphasized Jewel's involvement more--since Kara isn't really even on the show very much, usually just swooping in at the end to sit on the judging panel for a few minutes--the series would have fared better. Maybe people just don't like Kara, period.

It's a shame the public didn't give Kara a chance. When it comes to songwriting, she does know what she is talking about. But the bigger shame is the public isn't giving the contestants a chance. Because those contestants need this show much more than Kara ever did. Kara may never get another reality show greenlit, but she already has her royalties from the songs she's penned for Pink, Christina Aguilera, Kelly Clarkson, Britney Spears, Carrie Underwood, and others, so she will be fine. But this show was supposed to the big break for the 12 unknown songwriters in the cast. A lot of surprisingly strong music has already come out of this show--I even downloaded a couple of the contestants' original songs, like the gorgeous "Home For Me" below--but sadly, it seems like few people have heard these tunes. Apparently no platinum hits will actually be spawned by "Platinum Hit."

[photos: Bravo]

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