For entertainer Wayne Brady, signing on as the host of "Celebrity Duets" was a no-brainer. The latest FOX reality show pairs up stars not known primarily for their singing with big-name musicians such as Patti LaBelle, Michael Bolton and Peter Frampton.
"I love music, and as a singer I think music is such a big part of my career and what I do," says Brady in a phone interview. "And just as a fan, I want to see these guys sing live. And thirdly, I think that being in a position to be on a show where millions call in and vote for you never hurts. So the fact that I could use this to further my own music career and to be a part of something big, that's just good business right there."
The established singers will guide the celebrity contestants through song selection and rehearsal before the duo performs live. "American Idol" judge Simon Cowell is executive producing the talent show, in which America votes for the winner, who will receive $100,000 for his or her favorite charity.
Although the contestants aren't in the music biz, many have previous experience singing on Broadway or in other acts. Among them are Lucy Lawless, Lea Thompson, "Queer Eye" culture vulture Jai Rodriguez, "Fresh Prince of Bel-Air" actor Alfonso Ribeiro and former WWE champ Chris Jericho. At the time of the interview, Brady still hadn't gone into rehearsals yet, given the live nature of the show.
"I think the day before the show goes live, I'm going in and doing a whole day of blocking and learning and watching a couple of rehearsals of the singers," he says. "But I don't want to see any of the performances. I want to be just as surprised as the audience so that when my chance to jump and interject my opinion comes, it's fresh.
"And that's another thing," he adds, "live TV: not everyone has that in their skill set, something I'm so stoked about. I'm ready to jump in there with both feet."
Brady admits that he's most excited to see performances by LaBelle, Chaka Khan and Brian McKnight, with whom he's sung in the past. He credits Cowell's concept of using celebrities who can actually carry a tune and featuring a respected song list for drawing the high-caliber musicians that also include Clint Black, Belinda Carlisle, Randy Travis, Gladys Knight and Macy Gray.
"That once again is a testament to Simon's taste," enthuses Brady. "If you're going to do classic songs that are written and performed by great people, get those great people. A lot of the contemporary, up-to-date artists can't sing, and that's just my opinion."
Brady says he'll probably get to show off his own vocal chops during the results show or near the run of the program, but is really just looking forward to being dazzled as a music fan.
"Simon Cowell, the man's got the golden touch," he says. "I think it's going to be the best live concert on TV for at least the month of September."
"Duets," also featuring Little Richard, Marie Osmond and music producer David Foster as the judges, will premiere on Tuesday, Aug. 29 before moving to its regular Thursday home on Sept. 7, with the results show starting Friday, Sept. 8.Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times