Synopsis by Hal Erickson
If American Inventor came off as yet another variation of American Idol, it was hardly surprising: the weekly, hour-long ABC series was executive produced by Simon Cowell, who had gained fame (not to mention infamy) as the most abrasive and insulting member Idol's three-person team of judges. Debuting March 16, 2006, American Inventor likewise boasted a panel of judges, whose job it was to decide who among several contestants was the best and most creative inventor. Said contestants had previous been chosen in open auditions in several major U.S. cities, and were whittled down to a small group of finalists as the series progressed. Each finalist was then given 50,000 dollars advance money to bankroll their invention, which if deemed the winner would net the lucky entrepreneur one million dollars. Matt Gallant, formerly the emcee of The Planet's Funniest Animals, acted as host, while the American Inventor judges included British venture capitalist Peter Jones, female marketing specialist Mary Lou Quinlan, New York ad executive Ed Evangelista, and of course the traditional "Simon Cowell" clone, eccentric and outspoken professional inventor Doug Hall.