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'Dreidel, Dreidel, Dreidel, I Made It Out of Clay Aiken ...
For Philadelphia's Bob Horowitz, bees wax lyrical every week; but then, every week is a chai-light and a menorah mint for him since "The Singing Bee" is singing high notes and higher ratings for its network, NBC.
Horowitz is president and executive producer of Juma Entertainment. And the son of a Jewish ma and pa has them singing his praises, too, as his hit show has taken an old game and made it nu all over again.
Forget it, Four Tops. It's not the same old song when Horowitz has his hands on it: When "The Singing Bee" returns in two weeks, it will still have the voice of Joey Fatone as its host/ narrator, as well as special guest star Little Richard.
But there's been nothing little about the love audiences have poured on their new honey of a reality hit, in which contestants play karaoke kamikaze, finishing off lyrics to a song once the teleprompter has nothing to tell them anymore.
What it all says to Horowitz is girls -- and guys -- just like to have fun.
And what could be more comical than thinking the words to "Bei Meir Bist Du Schoen" are "Buy me a beer, Mr. Shane"?
Well, maybe not that one. "How about 'Hatikvah'? Well, I can play it on my violin," regales Horowitz.
Of course, "The Singing Bee" is not Jewish itself -- don't expect "Jerusalem of Gold" to be a golden oldie any week soon -- but it has Jewish relatives (see Seinfeld, Jerry: "Bee Movie"). But what Horowitz has here, captured on his karaoke cue cards, is the voice of America -- okay, a little flat, a little off, but lots of sharp humor.
"It's a pretty simple format," he explains simply. "You're just testing if you know the lyrics of a song."
Know this: Word is it's a success worldwide, with 30 countries singing and signing on.
Israel? It's a real possibility.
Float like a butterfly, sing like a bee? Horowitz may be floating on air, but he's not alone. The teleprompter would be tellingly all wrong if it did not include the words, "Phil Gurin, creator/exec producer."
Or as Grover Washington Jr. would have played it -- correctly -- "Just the Two of Us."
"Phil -- a good friend and my business partner -- was trying to bring back a show like 'Name That Tune' " when the pop-hit idea popped up.
They seem able to name their own now. And, perhaps, most important for the Doylestown Dynamo, Horowitz has become the Clint Eastwood of Wordsmiths back home. Not so much the Man With No Name as the Man With No Name for a Song.
"I know at my temple," says the Temple Judea juggernaut, "they've been thinking of using the format to teach prayers."
The Bucks County idea doesn't stop there. Other houses of worship are thinking it, too. But do his own kids worship Dad for coming up with this cool, combustible comic hit?
Sure -- just don't ask Pop to sing out loud. "I would be reluctant to sing in a karaoke bar," says the otherwise fearless father of Julia, 12, and Maggie, 14.
He Hears the Public
He is not tone deaf, however, to the needs of reality TV.
Indeed, Horowitz, whose production credits include "Manhunt: The Search for America's Most Gorgeous Male Model," "Super Bowl's Greatest Commercials: 2007" and "Race to the Altar," is altering the TV tube scene.
Sit for a spell? Spell for a sing. "We're playing off the fun component of, 'You've been singing that song in the shower wrong all this time!' "
Clean up, America! Get the words right!
"José, can you see?" "Belt Me Uppercut, Buttercup?"
And wasn't that Bruce Willis doing the sound track for ... "Die, Die, Anew"?
"How many people have problems finishing a prayer at temple, or even the national anthem without the words in front of them?"
It all gave proof that the flack was still there. Sure, some can complain this is mindless entertainment, but then, it can handle the rap, even if some don't know what a rap song means with the teleprompter right in front of them.
Yet "certain people have amazing recall," insists Horowitz, recalling champs chomping at the bit to belt out a song.
It's just as American as "Apples, Pimples, Pumpkin Eye."
Meanwhile, has Horowitz got that holiday spirit?
"Maybe I'll get a Chanukah song in" when the show returns.
Just don't expect, "Dreidel, Dreidel, Dreidel, I Made It Out of Clay Aiken."
Truth be told, Horowitz is a big fan of "American Idol": "I attended a show, and it's amazing. The format is so wonderfully simple."
No idle time these days.
What's perhaps dearest to his heart is putting together the Deer Valley Celebrity Skifest, in which sports and environmental concerns team together.
But for now, is that the sound of music? Not from him, avers Horowitz: "I love creating TV shows; I don't like singing."
That's not what he wants to hear from fans, however.
"I want this to be appointment TV," says the producer of "The Singing Bee" -- "I want it to be must-sing TV!"