September 18, 2012 2:16pm PT by Seth Abramovitch
Will.i.am Developing an 'American Idol' for Science and Technology Geniuses
Attention young robot-builders, mathletes, engineers and aspiring app developers: will.i.am thinks it's time for you to get the American Idol treatment.
In his keynote remarks at Amsterdam's IBC technology conference last week, the musician, producer, outspoken political activist and proud science nerd admitted that the talent pool for star-caliber vocalists on shows like American Idol, The X Factor and The Voice -- all three of which he has worked with -- is rapidly dwindling.
But the format would work beautifully to find the world's next Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg or even Bobak "Mohawk Guy" Ferdowski, will.i.am says.
“Every year, companies like Google need more innovators, but there is no content celebrating them,” he told the IBC crowd, according to the U.K.'s Broadcast.
“The system thinks people are dumb and they don’t care. We have no desire to make them care. We need creative people working with broadcasters, making smart content to inspire people to be geniuses.”
There has been no pilot yet ordered for the proposed series, but will.i.am says he's already in negotiations with broadcasters, and has been busily "fine-tuning" the show, which will look "like nothing we've seen before."
A rep for will.i.am confirms to The Hollywood Reporter that the show is in development, but that it's "a bit early" to relay any further details.
The pop star has turned his passion for STEAM -- science, technology, engineering, arts and math -- education into a top priority. Most recently, he teamed with NASA and the Curiosity rover to release a solo track, "Reach for the Stars," which made its debut on the surface of Mars: the first song ever to be broadcast to earth from another planet.
The making of that out-of-this-world project will be profiled in i.am.mars: Reach for the Stars, a Discovery SCIENCE channel documentary that premieres Wed., Sept. 19 at 10 p.m. ET/PT.
As a mentor on televised talent competitions, no one knows more than will.i.am just how well those shows connect with young viewers. But will the format generate as much excitiment for M.I.T. undergrads and bedroom hackers as it did for Carrie Underwood and Phillip Phillips?
"It will be great TV and great for society," he predicts.