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American Idol Heads to Vietnam for International Version

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Hanoi, Vietnam - Television producers in this karaoke-crazy country are hoping to have a smash with Vietnam Idol, the newest version of the singing contest that is a major hit in the West.

Vietnam Idol A Vietnamese advertising company purchased the rights to American Idol for an undisclosed sum from FremantleMedia, which produced the first Idol show in Britain, according to Nguyen Chi Tan, deputy director of the Ho Chi Minh City Television network, or HTV.

The show, to be produced by HTV, will be broadcast on eight channels nationwide.

Following the same format as the FOX network's U.S. show, a parade of would-be pop stars will audition before a three-judge panel and try to win the votes of television viewers across this nation of 84 million people. FOX is owned by News Corp.

About 7,000 contestants are expected to audition next month in the cities of Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Can Tho and Danang. The field will be narrowed to 30 singers before the show goes on the air in May.

Week by week, viewers will vote by mobile phone text message to decide which performers will progress to the next round, until a winner is selected in September.

"Idol is one of the most popular TV shows in America and Europe. We hope it will be the same in Vietnam," Tan said. More than 30 countries have already broadcast their own versions of the American Idol show.

Matt Richenthal is the Editor in Chief of TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter and on Google+.

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