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Idol's Golden Opportunity

American Idol, which could also be called the Save the Fox Network Foundation, launches its big "Idol Gives Back" charity extravapalooza tonight, with Hollywood stars taking aim at poverty once again.

It would be easy to mock it as a big, highly public I"dol Gives Itself a Pat on the Back" exercise in self-congratulation, but I prefer to see it as leveraging its huge audience, an increasingly difficult set of eyeballs to accumulate, to do some good.

Music stars–OK, Idols are not yet that–have been putting on various "aid" concerts for decades,promoting themselves and their music in the bargain, and as recently as last weekend Sheryl Crow was trying to leverage her status to push Karl Rove to reject his globe-warming ways and join the "cool"crowd.

If Idol raises awareness and money about poverty here–yes, here–and abroad, who cares why the show is doing it. Idol 's regular cast of judges and host have benefitted wildly from the musical equivalent of turning letters in a game of Wheel of Mega-Fortune.

If the show can draw half the attention to the issue of poverty that it has to the issue of what Sanjaya's hair would look like from week to week, it will have been a success. Now that I think about it, how about a charity bidding war for the right to shave his head on the finale, that combines both the ascetic and the asthetic if you ask me.

Just a thought.

By John Eggerton