You have to feel a little sorry for Keith Urban. Not because he left the The Voice Australia for American Idol for a reported $US4 million pay cheque. But because now that he's there, he must be wondering what on earth he signed up for.
Having exchanged the company of Seal, Delta Goodrem and Joel Madden for Mariah Carey and Nicki Minaj, he now finds himself in the middle of two talent show judges who expend more energy attacking each other than nurturing talent.
That's a far cry from The Voice. It's tone - an emphasis on quality and applauding excellence rather than the knocking down typical of the genre - was a powerful calling card. The Voice proved a windfall for Urban, giving him the credibility that previously had eluded him in his home market.
In contrast, American Idol looks like a circus. You could blame it on the overblown reportage of a lightweight US media, except that the Carey-Minaj clashes are backed up with video leaked onto the internet. Whether it is a publicity stunt or not (and some people think it is), it emphasises the age and shallowness of the Idol franchise.
In truth, Urban will not take too much collateral damage from the drama, though many raised an eyebrow when news of his departure from The Voice was announced. It felt a little like he was taking the money and running. That's not how it was sold, but $US4 million is hard to challenge.
Urban may, however, wonder what long-term prospects American Idol genuinely offers him. It is an old show that rearranges its judging panel annually. The Voice, on the other hand, is an emerging format whose tone and execution is almost peerless in the genre.
If Carey and Minaj keep sinking American Idol into the marsh, Urban may come to regret the move altogether.
Olympic superstar Ian Thorpe will make an appearance at the annual television market MIPCOM, which kicks off in Cannes, France, this week. The market is one of two major program-sales markets held every year. (The other is April's MIPTV.) Thorpe will attend the market's Palais des Festivals to
help ABC Commercial sell the documentary Ian Thorpe: The Swimmer, which followed his attempted comeback before the London Olympics and was produced by Gregor Jordan and Simone Kessell. ABC Commercial owns the worldwide rights.
Women of war
The ABC has commissioned a six-part mini-series telling the story of Anzac nurses who served during World War I. A co-production between Screentime and the ABC, Anzac Girls is based on the Peter Rees book The Other Anzacs. The book compiled letters, diaries and personal stories of Australian and New Zealand nurses who served in World War I. The drama will be part of the ABC's commemoration of
the centenary of World War I and Gallipoli. Writers Felicity Packard and Niki Aken are attached to the project. It will be produced by Des Monaghan and Greg Haddrick.
Felons for Foxtel
Underbelly stars Danielle Cormack (pictured) and Aaron Jeffery will head the cast of the highly anticipated Foxtel remake of Prisoner. The 10-part drama, Wentworth, will star Cormack as ''top dog'' Bea Smith. It also stars Nicole da Silva, Celia Ireland, Kris McQuade, Shareena Clanton, Catherine McClements, Robbie Magasiva and Leeanna Walsman. Foxtel's director of television, Brian Walsh, says the series will be ''bold Australian storytelling with a remarkable group of actors''. The series is being produced by FremantleMedia Australia. It will air on the SoHo channel next year.
US Rake remake
The critically acclaimed ABC drama Rake is to be remade for the US market. The project is being steered by Sony Pictures Television and could be tailored to either a cable channel or a US network. A major feather in its cap is it comes with actor Greg Kinnear attached. Kinnear would play an American version of Rake's Cleaver Greene, played by Richard Roxburgh in the Australian version. The show's Australian creative team - Roxburgh, Peter Duncan and Ian Collie - are working on the US version.
A question of energy
Dick Smith will front a new documentary that explores the global energy challenge: ''controlling it, paying for it and the consequences of burning it''. Ten Bucks a Litre will be produced by Simon Nasht and Kate Hodges and directed by Max Bourke. ''Self-confessed fossil-fuel junkie Dick Smith will try to separate the facts from the hot air,'' the documentary's synopsis says. ''What are Australia's options as we enter the age of energy disruption?'' The documentary will air on the ABC next year.
Seven tees off
The Seven Network has signed a deal to secure the rights to the Australian Open golf tournament. The tournament previously aired on Channel Ten, which has dropped the tournament as part of a shift away from sports rights. (Ten's sports channel One was repositioned as an entertainment channel last year.) Seven's deal will put 20 hours of golf coverage from the Australian Open on screens in December.
Michael Idato is on Twitter: @michaelidato