Australian Associated Press entertainment writer Darren Cartwright is calling out reality talent shows for their use of professionals. Among the examples he cites of fairly successful professionals appearing on TV contests are Raymond Crowe and illusionist Michael Boyd, both on the current season of Australia’s Got Talent. He does not fault performers for trying to broaden their appeal (and perhaps collect a little prize money) by appearing on such shows, but he does seem concerned that amateurs are being squeezed out of the running. You can read his article here.

Cartwright’s point is valid in the United States, too. In America’s Got Talent, for example, established professional magicians such as Kevin James, The Pendragons and Nathan Burton have all graced the AGT stage. This is not a problem simply limited to the Got Talent franchise. Several contestants on various singing competitions had already been signed record deals. In the current season of The Voice, for example, actress and singer EG Daily (arguably best known as Dottie in Pee Wee’s Big Adventure and shown above being interviewed on American Bandstand) is competing even though she has had Top 100 and dance chart hits as well as several songs on film soundtracks.

If this trend continues, where will it leave the truly unknown performers who audition for talent search shows? This is a particularly important question for magicians and other performers with limited opportunities on such programs.