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American Juniors (19 Juniors) was a reality television series broadcast on the Fox Network as a spin-off of American Idol, created by Simon Fuller and 19 Television, FremantleMedia, directed by Bruce Gowers and produced by Nigel Lythgoe and Ken Warwick. It was very similar to the adult American Idol, much like the British series S Club Search (producing the S Club Juniors) was to British band S Club 7. The only season of American Juniors aired in the summer of 2003. It was taped in Hollywood, California.
Around 2,000 children and teenagers auditioned for the show; from these 22 were chosen as contestants. Three of these contestants (Jennifer Jameson, Bobby White, Billy Loftus) were immediately eliminated after getting chosen because they did not stick out from the rest of the crowd. From there on 19 were chosen and were shown on TV, with the rest not making a TV debut at all. Throughout the season, this number was narrowed down to ten through several rounds of voting. Like American Idol, voting was done by the show's viewers via telephone. Unlike Idol, to prevent hurt feelings, the contestants were voted into the group, as opposed to being voted off the show. Idol host Ryan Seacrest repeated this duty for most of the shows. Idol judges did not appear (other than one satellite hookup with Simon Cowell from the second season of Pop Idol); the principal Juniors judges were Gladys Knight (who also hosted when Seacrest was absent), Deborah Gibson, and Jordan Knight (former member of New Kids on the Block). A number of Idol alumni, such as Kelly Clarkson, Ruben Studdard, Christina Christian and Justin Guarini made guest performances.
Ratings and Aborted Second SeasonEdit
American Juniors became one of the highest rated television shows of the summer season, with approximately 11.9 million viewers on June 3, though the numbers dropped 40% toward the end of July. Nonetheless, the producers were satisfied of the strong teen demographic. A second edition was planned for fall 2003, later postponed to the summer after American Idol (season 3), then called off.
Following The ShowEdit
The American Juniors made a brief appearance on the December 2003 American Idol Christmas special, An American Idol Christmas. Their debut album America Juniors was released on October 26, 2004 after a year's delay from its original scheduled date. Probably the most successful teenagers from the show are Julie Dubela, Kristinia DeBarge, (both who competed in the top twenty but failed to make the final ten), Lucy Hale who made the final 5, Jordan McCoy and Katelyn Tarver who both made the final ten but failed to reach the final five.
Dubela auditioned for season 7 of American Idol when they traveled to Miami, Florida. She reunited with former Juniors host Ryan Seacrest and sang and danced to the Juniors theme song, One Step Closer. When she introduced herself to the judges, Randy Jackson and Paula Abdul told her they had liked American Juniors but Simon Cowell sarcastically added "Yes, that was a really good show wasn't it?". After her performance, they were not as kind to her, calling her precocious and telling her to become an actress. After she unhappily left, the show played part of her Juniors performance (Rainy Days and Mondays).
After American JuniorsEdit
In December 2009, Lucy Hale was cast in the ABC Family channel show Pretty Little Liars, based on the book series by Sara Shepard. Hale's work on the show has earned her a 2010 Teen Choice Award. Hale later got a record deal of her own in 2012. She is currently working on her debut album.
In 2011 sisters Tori and Taylor Thompson auditioned for the NBC show The Voice, where they made it and were mentored by Grammy-winning singer Cee-Lo Green. The duo was, however, eliminated from the show on June 21, 2011 because their teammate Vicci Martinez received the most votes from the public while fellow singer Nakia was chosen by Green to go on to the next round.
The American Juniors group disbanded in 2005. The members seem to be pursuing individual efforts and there is little publicity about them as a group. The show website became inactive in April 2005, but the music website remains intact as an archive. In May 2005, the Thompson sisters' website announced they were now out on their own.
Radio stations that play children's music (e.g., Disney, or digital radio) still occasionally play the music of American Juniors.