Monday, March 23, 2009

AMERICAN IDOL: "We'll be back with nothing right after the break"

AMERICAN IDOL is pre-empted Tuesday night by the President. Fans might be upset but the show’s producers aren’t. This year more than any other they have made a concentrated effort to draggggggggg outttttttt the season as long as they can. After all, this is FOX’s one big cash cow. TIL DEATH can’t hold the fort the remaining seven months.

We’ve seen it repeatedly this season. It used to be we’d get two or three sob stories during the open auditions. This year was a virtual parade of Octomoms.

A fourth judge was added. And since Kara (pictured above) offers nothing in the way of fresh perspective or personality it can only be concluded that she’s there for padding. Now we have to wade through three inane critiques before we get to Simon and the only opinion that matters.

Hollywood week now lasts longer than the NBA playoffs. To be more accurate they should rename it “Hollywood Winter”.

Results shows used to be a half hour. How long does it take to say, “Sanjaya, go away.”? Now they’re an hour. More “Up With People” production numbers with the candidates massacring the Motown catalog, more career CPR performances by Neil Diamond, endless audience shots of friends and family members who look like the cast of DELIVERANCE, and increased Algonquin Table level badinage between Ryan Seacrest and Randy Jackson. Thank God there are those 37 minutes of commercials to break up this tedium.

A new rule this season allows the judges to save one castoff one time, thus cleverly adding yet another week of competition. By the way, how incredibly stupid do you have to be to not know they’re going to hold this card until the end of the season to prolong this faux suspense going for as long as possible? Right. Someone needs to explain it to Paula.

And then there is AMERICAN IDOL GIVES BACK, their big splashy charity show. (Can anything beat the season Simon Cowell visited a local food bank and said he was astounded that there are hungry people in Los Angeles?)

But AMERICAN IDOL is running out of ideas. The seams are showing. So, as a public service, I offer these three suggestions for stretching the show but not having it appear at all obvious. AI producers, are you listening?

Once you reach the top ten, pause for MENTOR IDOL. Take five 60s British Invasion stars at least as famous as Lulu, let them perform and each week the public votes off another. (“Gerry of Gerry and the Pacemakers, I’m sorry buddy, it’s the end of the line.”) In five weeks you’ll have the winner then go back to the real competition. The following week begin another round of MENTOR IDOL, this time with a country theme. By my calculations you could add another YEAR to the show with just this nifty convention alone!

Make one of the weeks “Complete Opera” week.

It’s a shame to waste AMERICAN IDOL GIVES BACK on only a couple of nights. It should air every night for a month – say the month that Fox has all the baseball playoffs. Kellie Pickler could sing during pitching changes. Tatiana del Toro could replace Tim McCarver in the booth (Or anyone could replace Tim McCarver in the booth). The World Series could be played at the Kodak Theater. It’s a win-win. More weeks for you, and since the World Series probably will stretch into Thanksgiving this year you’ll get all that November Sweeps action.

And finally, add one more judge – Tommy Lasorda. You’ll never have to do another production number or show a contestant’s hometown ever again.

Good luck with the rest of the season. Take my suggestions and that could be indefinitely.


Steve Marshall said...

Thankfully, we have avoided the Idol phenomenon at our house. Like most "reality" shows, its essential component is cruelty. That doesn't pass for entertainment with us.

Dhppy said...

Aww. Hollywood Week is the best part of the show (unless Tatiana is onscreen). The forgetting the words, the carousing, the meltdowns, and finally people actually singing well. So well that they don't get picked for the show.

This season, is toast. The producers want an Adam vs. Gokey final, and they'll get it. You should watch The Amazing Race. The producer contrivances are upfront and more people have an actual chance of winning.

Anonymous said...

And then there is AMERICAN IDOL GIVES BACK, their big splashy charity show.

Not this year, according to their announced changes that included the earth-shattering addition of Kara.

Every other year instead.

The Milner Coupe said...

Idol is big at our house. But I have to agree with your first commentor.
We always thought the best way to eliminate each of the voted off contestants was just to have them not be there the following week.
But this insipid idea of having to lose TWICE in five minutes is horrible. Like you said, we all know they'll 'save the save' until the top three. It's like being fired by a corporate lay-off, then being made to face all your co-workers while your immediate superior confirms your worthlessness.
I guess the strategy behind this could be to lenghthen the season. Just think how many tribute shows they'll be able to have when one of these kids decides they just can't bear a life not being an idol. Ooooh the ratings!

Anonymous said...

Your "Mentor Idol" idea reminds me a bit of that NBC show from a few years back, "Hit Me Baby One More Time," which pitted washed-up, um, I mean, veteran acts like A Flock of Seagulls, The Motels, The Knack, Irene Cara, Loverboy, etc., etc., against each other. It was absurd, but rather entertaining.

Anonymous said...

Not withstanding the humiliation some Idol auditioners endure, generally simply by showing and thinking they can sing, I don't think the main competition is cruel.

I'd bet that the contestants on Idol are treated better than if they showed up at a typical industry audition or casting session. Yes there are winners and losers, but that is the nature of competition. As to how they reveal them-- yes they want to create some drama, I've never seen them do anything gratuitously mean.

If you polled the 100 or so contestants who have been finalists over the years I think you'd find very few of them regret participating in the show.

I have to admit I am mystified by the addition of Kara; the only reason for her inclusion that makes sense to me is they want someone in place in case Paula implodes. It will be interesting to see if she returns next year.

Anonymous said...

Dear Ken, Stop blog filler now!

Nathan said...

My favorite this year is where one week, Simon says how he hates country music...doesn't get it. Then the next week they all have to sing country songs so Simon can tell them "poor song choice".

Steve Marshall said...

In response to What's Up Dawg, I have run more casting sessions than I can count. Regardless of how awful the performer might be, they always ended with something along the lines of "Thank you very much." Never once did I say, "That was AWFUL. Whatever gave you the impression that you could act? And the choices you made? UNBELIEVABLE! Go home and never come back!" Cruelty is as cruelty does.

Anonymous said...

They're stretching it out even more?? One of the reasons I avoid these shows is the ridiculous padding and false suspense. I can't even wrap my imagination around the idea of it being even more dragged out.

Mary Stella said...

Algonquin Table level badinage between Ryan Seacrest and Randy Jackson.

Ken, Ryan and Randy couldn't pull off Algonquin level badinage if you wrote it for them, rehearsed them and then actually spoke the lines for them.

Now I'm thinking of a celebrity smackdown between Paula and Dorothy Parker.

Idol lives on and on for even the contestants who don't go on to big careers even though they didn't win AI. Now the also-rans are extending themselves on Gone Country where they not only have to sing, they have to catch greased pigs and drive tractors.

Jess Kiley said...

I don't know how Simon Cowell could ever pull it off, but I tune into the try-outs and laugh my ass off, but I'm not really interested in the parade that happens afterwards.

Maybe it's the entitled lust that was raised into me, being from Chicago and all, or my preference to see people succeed, rather than fail and embarrass themselves unintentionally like unskilled variety show stage managers.

But get the good ones into record contracts, the laborers into laboring, and I don't know, feature that spicy Beckham chick and her fashion designs.

Many of us can't sing, let alone pay the mortgage, but fashion. That's something every mom can raise her child to believe in.

Anonymous said...

growingupartists: Wha?

Anonymous said...

And for "Complete Opera Week," include Wagner's entire "Der Ring Des Nibelungen" which, besides being Hitler's favorite opera, is also 20 hours long. It's practically an entire season all by itself.

Steve Marshall, (Hi Steve)

While most of the casting directors I auditioned for during my years as a jobbing actor were polite, kind, and did their best to soften the hundreds of rejections they had to dish out daily (What a depressing job), I do remember one audition for a national TV show in which the casting director, whom I had read for on other occasions without incident - or job - did indeed unleash a high-volume tirade of vitriol at me for wasting his time with my horrible non-talent, when all that was needed was "Too much. Could you do that again, but this time, give me about half of the intensity?"

Coincidentally, that vicious audition experience occurred in the building that used to occupy the exact same spot where now sits the Kodak Theater and Simon Cowell; he of "I'm not being rude, but your mother should be shot just for gestating you."

Tom Quigley said...

We probably should keep in mind when watching (if anyone still does) that the whole point of this (seemingly pointless at this point) endeavor called AMERICAN IDOL is ultimately to entertain viewers by alternately: (1) Having them listen to someone sing, no matter how golden-throated or deplorably incompetent they may be; (2) Having their ire raised by Simon taking a few sniper shots at some unsuspecting innocent teenager after he's just mangled "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road"; (3) Wondering just when Paula will actually slide out of her chair and under the table due to overmedicating, (4) Hoping that the real reason this Kara person was hired is to raise our prurient hopes that as the season progresses, the odds get better and better that we'll have a full-blown knock-down, drag-out, hair-pulling, blouse-ripping Paula-Kara catfight to enjoy; (5) Expecting that at some point Randy Jackson has had enough of all the bullshit, takes a hike and goes back to producing Mariah Carey (Yeah, right -- like there's no bullshit surrounding HER career); (6) Playing a game of "Let's figure out Ryan's gender orientation" ("He is!" "He isn't!" "He is!" "He isn't!" "He is!" "He isn't!" -- "More clues when we come back after these messages!" )... The actual winning of the competition has as much to do with whatever success the show still has as Fox's News Channel had in helping John McCain win the election...

Anonymous said...

"Tom Quigley said...
We probably should keep in mind when watching (if anyone still does) that the whole point of this (seemingly pointless at this point) endeavor called AMERICAN IDOL is ultimately to entertain viewers"

Well the ratings show that millions still are watching it. I'm not defending it, but the giant ratings are a fact of life. The show remains the biggest success currently on the air.

And those ratings, and the ad rates it allows them to charge, is the only real point to the endeavor. Entertaining viewers is a means, not an end.

Dave Mackey said...

The one thing I miss about Idol is Randy saying something was "aight".

WV: "outandin": nonpareil, to a Little Rascal. "How's your mush, Buckwheat?" "Outandin!"

Steve Marshall said...

There is no excuse for being rude to people who are putting themselves out there. I have been an actor as well so I always had empathy for those who were just trying to score a job. Simon takes much to much pleasure in his cruelty.

Anonymous said...

No argument from me.

"Some things are not forgivable. Deliberate cruelty is not forgivable."
- Blanche DuBois, "A Streetcar Named Desire."

Graham Powell said...

So, if Tim McCarver and Joe Morgan ever called the same game, would the stadium shrink instantly to a sucktackular singularity?

ScreenplayJ said...

These shows are too painful to watch.... i try to avoid looking at the posters at the malls!!

Mary Stella said...

the odds get better and better that we'll have a full-blown knock-down, drag-out, hair-pulling, blouse-ripping Paula-Kara catfight to enjoy;

The odds are even better that there will be a full-blown, knock down, drag-out hair-pulling Kara-Simon fight. I'd bet on Kara.

wb= cositized A speech, script, or article rewritten by Bill Cosby

Anonymous said...

you used to make me think you actually paid at least a little attention to american idol before you wrote about it, but, your thoughts about the new rule need to be corrected to what the show is doing.

it doesn't add a week, if they invoke the rule, two get voted off the following week.

and they can't save the rule until the end of the season, it is only in play until they reach the final 5.

Nathan said...


Thanks for clearing that up. It's still an excuse to:

A.) Tell contestant that America thinks they suck.

B.) Make them sing the song they fucked up yesterday all over again (while hyperventilating).

C.) Have Simon say, "Yeah, America's right. You suck".

Anonymous said...

And also, Paula is only overmedicated on Tuesday shows. On Wednesdays, she's drunk.

Kelly Sedinger said...

Not sure if anyone's pointed this out yet (I don't think I saw it), but the "judges' reprieve" thing won't extend the show at all. If they step in and give someone the reprieve, the next week sees TWO contestants eliminated.

I just want them to drug Paula even more. She had to have suffered flashbacks of some sort during "Ring of Fire" last week!