SIKESTON -- There won't be any British judges delivering harsh criticisms and no "dawgs" will be uttered during the upcoming "Telethon Idol."
But spectators can still expect to be entertained as they witness the Kenny Rogers Children's Center Telethon's first singing competition set for 8 p.m. March 25 at the Sikeston Field House. The show will also be broadcast live on Sikeston Public Schools channel 12.
"I think it's going to be a lot of fun," said Michelle Fayette, KRCC executive director. "We were brainstorming on what we could do differently, and obviously, these shows are so popular on TV."
Creating "Telethon Idol" was just a way to bring some attention to the telethon, Fayette said.
"We were just trying to think of different ways to get more activity on Saturday night," agreed Sharron Lathum, co-chair of the telethon's entertainment committee. "We were spending so much money bringing in bands and stars, and we're really there to make money."
So the telethon's entertainment committee -- comprised of Lathum, co-chair Steve McPheeters and members Sandy Bain, Jerry Pullen and Fayette -- thought the competition would be a good money-making project, Lathum said.
Lathum recalled how the idea originated. She was talking with the committee about how she loves the reality show, "Dancing With the Stars," and how kids love, "American Idol."
"Steve (McPheeters) said, 'Sharron, we could have a little contest. We could do that.' And that's kind of how it started," Lathum recalled.
Although it's been named, "Telethon Idol," Lathum described the event set up as more like that of "Dancing With the Stars."
The contestants will be judged by a panel of musicians and nonmusicians, Lathum said. Judges will be given a checklist of items and will have a scoring points system of their own. After performances, they will hold up a card with their scores like the judges in "Dancing With the Stars."
Following the first round, the competition will be narrowed down to five contestants and then three, Lathum said. Trophies will be awarded to first, second and third place winners. The top three winners will also be asked to come back on Sunday and sing on the telethon, she added.
"I'm glad I'm not a judge. It's going to be hard," Fayette commented. "She's got some talented judges and who can recognize talent."
Contestants can select their own songs and use CDs, piano or the house band, Lathum said. Area contestants include Brian Fisk, Tracy Jackson, Rebecca Throop, Heather DeWitt, Caroline Murray, Arianne MacGillivray, Katie Snider, Crystal Russell and others.
Judges will be Dr. Larry Bohannon, Steve Clinton, Gay French, Connie Thompson, Kathy Brown and Jeff Partridge. Emcees will be Merideth and Justin Pobst of Jackson and formerly of Sikeston.
"Our hope is people will want to come out and see their friends and family and the competition," Fayette said.
The idea is to increase pledges by increasing the number of people watching the show. And if the event is a success, next year people may be able to vote for their favorite contestant through pledges, Lathum said.
In addition to "Idol," there will be other entertainment for the telethon as well, Lathum pointed out. Among other entertainers will be Sikeston native Neal Boyd and the cast of the Sikeston Little Theatre's "Oklahoma!" production.
"We're very fortunate to have a center like this in Southeast Missouri," Fayette said about KRCC. "The Center's been here for 31 years and still no family has ever been charged for the services they receive at the Center."
Fayette noted in 2000, the Kenny Rogers Cerebral Palsy Center changed its name to the Kenny Rogers Children's Center because it was treating so many more children who had other conditions, Fayette noted.
"So many of the kids we treat today don't have cerebral palsy. The things we are seeing don't arise until later in life such as sensory integration issues or improper eye alignment," Fayette said. "And 12 or 18 months of therapy can make a huge difference in rest of these children's lives," Fayette said.
The telethon is set for 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. March 25 and 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. March 26 at the Sikeston Field House.
"We're excited," Lathum said about the new competition. "It needed to be shook up. We always raise money, and we're thankful for that. This is just another good way to do it."
For more information, contact the Kenny Rogers Children's Center at (573) 472-0397.