A star is not born, believes Diddy. A star is made and nurtured. On his latest MTV reality show, P. Diddy's StarMaker, 14 singing hopefuls are coached, developed, tested and assessed — and they get to watch each other's star qualities emerge as they live in the same house. It's kind of like American Idol meets The Real World with drama to spare.
"Out of the 14, you have at least two or three that could really go all the way," says Diddy. "Nobody comes ready. It's who, day in and day out, is gonna work on their craft."
Adds the man who put now-defunct girl group Danity Kane and successful boy band Day26 through their paces on Making the Band, "It's the same thing as Michael Jordan or Michael Phelps or Mohammed Ali. The first day Mohammed Ali was in the ring, he didn't look like the Mohammed Ali that was in Rumble In The Jungle."
Industry pros including manager Johnny Wright, producer Rodney Jerkins, choreographer Laurie Ann Gibson, Billboard editor Tamara Conniff and singer/TV host Kimberly Caldwell (a former Idol contestant) guide and judge the hopefuls as they compete for a Bad Boy contract. Pete Wentz, Lady Gaga, Nicole Scherzinger and Kelly Rowland will guest throughout the show's run.
Despite Idol's spotty track record, Diddy says reality shows have grown into a viable method of spotting fresh talent. "It really takes it back to the way that A&R directors used to find their talent, which was the local talent shows. But you don't even have that anymore. The Internet and Xbox and PlayStation and all those things have changed the game," he says. "If you asked a 15 year old when was the last time they'd been to a talent show, they may never even have been. We're going to bring the talent show to them."
So why does Diddy think so many of these TV talent show contestants and winners — who leave the show with a built-in fanbase before ever releasing an album — don't become the stars they are groomed to be? "To be honest, not everybody is a star," says Diddy, matter-of-factly. "As time goes on, as the smoke and mirrors [clear] you can tell who is still able to resonate. It takes that special individual to really be a superstar."
Diddy's own next album, Last Train To Paris, is due in November. "I put a group together called Dirty Money," he says. "It's myself, Dawn [Richard] from Danity Kane and a lady named Kaleena. I think you could expect something different from me than you've experienced in the past because it's not just all on me. It's me and these two young ladies. So it will be refreshing."