European fans of spandex, spangles and pop kitsch will not be denied.
Just two weeks after the cancellation of the 2020 Eurovision Song Contest, the wildly popular pan-European singing competition, German production group Brainpool has come up with a replacement show.
The Free European Song Contest, which Brainpool will produce for German network ProSieben, will air live on Saturday, May 16. According to the company’s promo line, the show will celebrate “passion, fun and a love for music.”
The idea for a Eurovision ersatz show came from Stefan Raab, one of Germany’s most successful TV entertainers and, in 2000, a Eurovision competitor (he came in fifth). Raab produced and hosted Germany’s pre-selection Eurovision competition show for several years and produced and hosted the Eurovision competition itself in 2011, when it was held in Germany.
“Music connects people, especially in difficult times,” said Raab. “This marks the birth of the Free European Song Contest. Special challenges need special solutions and this evening will see Europe come together in a special and unique way.”
Brainpool, a subsidiary of Paris-based Banijay Group, did not reveal further details of the show, except to say it would be produced in Cologne, Germany, and that “all current legal and health and safety requirements would be met during production.”
The 2020 Eurovision Song Contest was scheduled to take place in Rotterdam, Netherlands, from May 12-16. But on March 18, organizers the European Broadcasting Union announced they were canceling the show amid the coronavirus pandemic. It is the first time in history, since the contest was launched in 1956, that Eurovision has been canceled.
Carried live on public broadcasters across 40 markets in Europe and abroad, the singing competition regularly tops the ratings for non-sports programming. In 2019, the show drew 182 million viewers across Europe.
This article was originally published by The Hollywood Reporter.