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American Idol: The Untold Story

3.27  ·  Rating Details ·  165 Ratings  ·  34 Reviews
The currency is fame, and it's bigger than money, more desired than power. Each season American Idol delivers on a promise whose epic scope is unparalleled in the annals of competition: to take an unknown dreamer from the middle of America and turn him or her into a genuine star. It has become not only the biggest show on television, but the biggest force in all of enterta ...more
ebook, 256 pages
Published January 18th 2011 by Hyperion (first published December 30th 2010)
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Gail Cooke
Jan 22, 2011 Gail Cooke rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

For American Idolizers (fans of America's most popular TV show, that is) Richard Rushfield offers an insider's look at what has been called our "biggest dream factory."

Starting in season six Rushfield covered American Idol for the Los Angeles Times - he wrote countless lines of type, did thousands of interviews, and continues to cover the show on his own blog. He's most definitely the go-to guy for Idol information, and here it all is - 287 pages detailing the rivalries, the ins-and-outs of voti
Feb 10, 2011 Jen rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was really excited to read this because I will admit to being slightly obsessed with the show and I was slightly disappointed. The first half was better than the second half. I thought the focus was too much on the judges, especially Simon. It almost felt like a biography of his journey on Idol rather than a real look at the show as a whole. Although there was definitely some good gossip I had never heard before, I wanted more about the contestants. The author could have gone a lot deeper but ...more
Jul 18, 2011 Ariel rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
Tonight is the season finale of American Idol so it seems to the perfect time to review this book. And the winner will be? who cares anymore. Alas when Simon left he seemed to take the magical buzz that was Idol with him. This book is a look back when Idol was THE show everyone was talking about. The start was a little slow for me with it's extensive background of how Pop Idol in the UK morphed into American Idol here. Once we got to the states is when the book really took off for me. The best p ...more
Feb 21, 2011 Beverly rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, music
On first impression, this account of the first 9 years of American Idol (although there is hardly anything about year 9)appears to be well informed because it covers a lot of detail about the program's genesis in the UK. On balance though it says nothing that an ordinary fan would not have learned by reading the news and blogs throughout the show's run. Worse, it is TOTALLY undocumented, consisting of nothing but unattributed word of mouth; ie: gossip. There is an egregious, unattributed slur on ...more
Leandro Nogueira
May 08, 2011 Leandro Nogueira rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Do not buy it unless you really love the show like I do.

Richard is an awful writer, pedant and primitive. Al the texts inside this book are nothing but a compilation of interviews with the producers, creators, judges and some second class ex-contestants.

There some really cool information like the building of Simon Fuller's empire and the advent of Simon Cowell in "showbiz" but most part of this book is reserved for backstage gossip and useless information like the impact of a Priest's contributi
Jan 25, 2011 Lynn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 4-star, nonfiction, e-book
A light read about the behind-the-scenes world of American Idol. This book gives a brief history of how the show came to be and how things have changed throughout the seasons. The focus is heavier on the judges (especially Simon Cowell and Paula Abdul) than on the contestants, so those expecting or wanting insider info or details about individual performers will not find much. Even the details about the nine winners are skimpy with almost nothing on recent champs Kris Allen and Lee DeWyze. Too, ...more
Mar 05, 2011 Audiaa rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, 2011
This book is really the RE-told story of American Idol. I don't think there was much here that hadn't already been told in a newspaper/magazine article, tabloid television show, on a website, or in a contestants biography. Though I didn't know that Sanjaya had a biography. There was a whole chapter dedicated to Brian Dunkleman, Ryan Seacrest's co-host for season 1 of Idol, which may have been new but not interesting. Since I'm not really a mega fan of the show, I just pop in now and then, I was ...more
Apr 10, 2011 Carlee rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm not an avid or even casual fan of American Idol, though being generally aware of pop culture, I am vaguely familiar of the winners (and stars) of AI. This book was a quick summary of the many seasons of AI, up until the last one. I felt the later seasons were rushed, which kind of matched the popularity of AI as a show in general, and also the decline after the original group of judges fell apart.

Overall, I enjoyed reading this book. Though I have heard/read some of the stuff that was mentio
Stephanie A.
Picked up at the dollar store and surprisingly fun - since it only went through 2010, a/k/a "the last year I watched with any regularity," and focused more on the earlier years when I was more invested, it was like a highlight reel/nostalgia tour of all the things I loved about Idol, plus some interesting insider details. It started a little slow with the backstory, but I loved walking through each season and reviewing the most memorable contestants and twists. It's the only book I've ever read ...more
Jan 26, 2011 Paula rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I had to read this because I am an unabashed Idol geek! This book did have some good behind-the-scenes info, but just like the show, I felt that it focused too much on the judges, producers, etc., and not enough on the contestants. I have an almost endless appetite for info about the kids. It was still a good read, and I definitely recommend it for big fans of the show. I think Richard is a good writer...I might have to see if he has written anything else.
Oct 01, 2014 Julie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I admit it, I am an American Idol fan. I have been dedicated to watching most every season. This book was fun for me because it gave me the story of how it all began. I enjoyed learning about the show's beginnings and to see how much it has changed over the years. I will continue to be a loyal fan of this show and will always be grateful that it was created. This book will be a keepsake for me because of this fact. For anyone who shares in my love of Idol, will surely enjoy this book.
Mike McAdam
Mar 18, 2013 Mike McAdam rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have watched the show since flipping channels and finding the first audition episode of the first season. I knew a lot of what was in the book already but there was enough that I didn't know that I found the book riveting anyway. I read the entire thing in one day. I would have liked more info on what happens backstage and what people are like when the cameras aren't rolling but there was enough to keep me happy. Loved this book and could not put it down.
Jan 26, 2015 Andrea rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014-reads
American Idol: The Untold Story was fantastic. This book only goes up to the 9th season when Simon, Randy, Kara and Ellen (yeah, remember that?) were judges, but it still has good stories. Many of the stories were ones I’d heard before, but it was fun to remember contestants I’d forgotten about through the years.
Matthew Gallaway
I am far from an expert in terms of American Idol, but I enjoyed this book a lot. Rushfield dissects the show and its place in popular culture with a characteristic intelligence and wit that is familiar to those of us who have admired his other work. I for one am curious to see where he next focuses his attention.
Nov 04, 2011 Mopar1195 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I love to hear how success started. This is a great story about how Simon Cowell and Fuller rose in their careers and by luck launched the first episodes of American Idol because the CEO of Fox's daughters asked her "daddy" to check out this great concept.
Apr 17, 2011 Linda rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've been an Idol fan since the end of season 1. Naturally, I was anxious to read this book. I enjoyed going back to info about past seasons, learning about the whys and hows and gaining insights into the program. I gave it a 4 based on my Idol addiction not necessarily because of the writing.
I can't say this was exactly "The untold story" of American Idol. There were some aspects that I wasn't aware of but most of the incidents described in the book were pretty much covered in the media.

Thank goodness it was a quick read.
Keli Wright
I had a lot of fun reading this book and it brought back a lot of memories watching the show... I did not like how it gave us so much detail at the beginning only to skim more and more of the seasons as the book went on. I loved American Idol in the day...but I am glad I don't watch it anymore...
Karen K
I didn't watch the first few seasons of Idol, so I couldn't relate to what they were saying about the personaliity of some of the earlier stars. I paged through to get to some of the interesting tidbits.
May 08, 2012 Ellen rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Taylor Hicks wanted to win? Say it ain't so!!! Simon is egotistical? So is Ryan? I could have saved myself some time and read only new information.
Mar 21, 2011 Penny rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Love all things Idol, so of course I liked it! Not crazy about the writing style, but loved getting the scoop on things.
Annie Knox
Poorly researched, repetitive and overall not very insightful. I was hoping for more inside knowledge, but found basic factual errors and not a lot of substance.
Apr 25, 2011 Calli rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
I picked this up expecting to skim, rather than read through. I surprised myself by reading it from start to finish and enjoying it. It was interesting to learn how the show came about and developed.
Apr 29, 2011 Lesley rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was kind of boring- took me a lot longer than normal to read a book with less than 300 pages. I learned a couple of new things, but that was about it.
Apr 19, 2015 Chris rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A light read with some juicy details I wasn't aware of. It spent too much time on the show's UK origins, though.
Theresa rated it it was amazing
Oct 15, 2014
Diane Higdon
Diane Higdon rated it really liked it
Feb 23, 2016
Corey rated it really liked it
May 05, 2013
Sean Lee
Sean Lee rated it liked it
Mar 15, 2013
Shayna rated it liked it
Aug 09, 2011
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