October 10th, 2007
Robert Horowitz is Co-Executive Producer of The Singing Bee, along with Phil Gurin. He's not only one of the big cheeses, however - he's also the guy who came up with the concept for the show.
Horowitz has worked on such shows as Manhunt: The Search for America’s Most Gorgeous Male Model, Super Bowl’s Greatest Commercials: 2007, Battle of the Network Reality Stars, and Race to the Altar. I recently had the opportunity to ask him a few questions about his latest success, The Singing Bee.
Question: Where did the inspiration for The Singing Bee come from?
Robert Horowitz: I was walking through Times Square last year and noticed all the signs for “The Spelling Bee” on Broadway. The idea of a musical spelling bee got me thinking about the concept of a singing bee. If a spelling bee tests your knowledge on words then maybe a singing bee can test your knowledge on songs. I didn’t want singing talent to play a factor though, so the best way to specifically test song knowledge is through the lyrics. There are numerous hit songs with famously misheard lyrics that could create some fun. With this basic concept in mind I called my friend Phil Gurin and he immediately agreed to partner with Juma to develop the concept.
Q: What exactly do you look for in a potential contestant?
Robert: We want our contestants to love music and be true lyric fanatics. These are people who can listen to a song beyond the melody. They love to memorize the words to songs and who are so good at it that they can actually get up on stage, deliver the goods, and win the $50,000 grand prize and the coveted Singing Bee trophy.
Q: What has the response been like to the show? How many contestant applications do you receive?
Robert: The response has been very positive and energetic. We have received thousands of inquiries from potential contestants. “Lyric fanatic” is a niche that more people than you’d expect fit into, and thanks to the Singing Bee, they finally have an outlet to strut their talent. We let all of our contestants know at the outset – We are not so concerned with how well you sing ... We want to know that you can sing it RIGHT!
Q: There seems to be a return to "family-style" entertainment on television, with talent competitions and game shows doing well in the ratings. Do you think this is the reason The Singing Bee is so successful, or are there other factors at play?
Robert: Today’s TV audience clearly appreciates the “family-friendly” tone of game shows, searching for programs where the entire family can sit in front of the television and watch together. We have worked hard to develop The Singing Bee as much more than a game show by including variety elements including live music, the Honey Bee dancers, and special musical guests. Our host, Joey Fatone, also brings a lot of spirit and energy to the show because he has such a fun, lovable personality and engages with the audience. All of these factors combine to create a wide range of entertainment options within each episode of The Singing Bee. In short, there’s something for everyone on every episode of The Singing Bee.
Q: Tell us what an average day in the life of an Executive Producer is like. Or do you even have "average days"?
Robert: Our shooting days are action packed to say the least. But before we can even go into the studio to shoot an episode, so many other things have to happen. These include contestant casting, music clearances, band rehearsals, dance rehearsals, booking our special guests, coming up with unique themes for certain episodes and more. On shooting days, we’re in the studio early for run-throughs, and then once we load in the audience, the energy level goes through the roof. We have a game show, a concert, a dance recital, a spectacular light show and hundreds of screaming and cheering audience members all under one roof. Any one of those things would typically be considered an event, but when you put them all together, it becomes a phenomenon.