Deutschland Sucht den Superstar ("Germany's Search for a Superstar," familiarly known as DSDS) was the German spinoff of producer Simon Fuller's amateur television showcase Pop Idol.
Launched on the RTL network in October 2002, Deutschland Sucht den Superstar originally featured Swiss actress Michelle Hunziker and former soap opera actor Carsten Spengemann as co-hosts, while the jury comprised composer/producer (and Modern Talking alum) Dieter Bohlen, radio host Thomas Bug, British music journalist Shona Fraser, and former BMG Germany president Thomas M. Stein. Thanks in large part to Bohlen's acerbic commentary, Deutschland Sucht den Superstar quickly emerged as a ratings blockbuster and more than 12 million viewers tuned in to its March 8, 2003, season finale, witnessing Alexander Klaws' defeat of rival singer Juliette Schoppman. Klaws' victory resulted in a record deal with BMG, and he debuted atop the German pop charts with the Bohlen-penned "Take Me Tonight." The second season of Deutschland Sucht den Superstar premiered in the fall of 2003, and while ratings failed to match the series' debut campaign, the show remained an audience favorite. On the March 13, 2004, finale, Elli Erl bested Denise Tillmanns, although neither enjoyed the subsequent commercial success of Klaws. With the advent of season three, Deutschland Sucht den Superstar experienced a near-total overhaul. Co-hosts Marco Schreyl and Tooske Ragas replaced Hunziker and Spengemann, and only Bohlen remained on the jury panel, now joined by music producer Sylvia Kollek and former artist management exec Heinz Henn. After ratings steadily climbed throughout the season, Tobias Regner edged rival Mike Leon Grosch on the March 18, 2005, finale. Regner's debut single, "I Still Burn," topped the charts in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland, although Grosch scored a German number one of his own with "Don't Let It Get You Down." ~ Jason Ankeny