Help me out, Goon, is this a show that's only on CBC or something? If it's down in the 48, what venue is it on? I think I recall it being on the last time I was up your way (although the Scott's Tournement of Hearts was on, so that's the only think that was on TV that week), but I wouldn't have watched it anyway.
Nashville Star is similar to American Idol in that a contestant gets voted out each week until there's only one, who gets a record contract. Differences exist, in that the contestants play instruments, and also perform original material.
I missed last night's show so I will have to look for the one of the many re-broadcasts on USA.
What I like about the show is that all of the contestants are brought out each week ready to perform - they called to perform one at a time until there is one left and that person is the one who goes home and doesn't get to perform. No drawn out results show.
The piece in Esquire is a pretty great read. Ebert is one of the last of his kind in terms of understanding the role of a film critic (or the role of any critic, for that matter) and relaying the necessity of that role to the general public.