Wednesday, July 28, 2010

TV Frostbites: Changes Ahead For American Idol

It’s not been a good year for “American Idol”.  First – the contract for Paula Abdul, one of Idol’s original trio of judges wasn’t renewed, so the producers had to scramble to find another person to fill her chair on the panel.  .  Who did they get to replace Abdul – none other than daytime talk show host and comedian Ellen Degeneres and even that announcement  was overshadowed with Simon Cowell announcing that this would be his last season of Idol. 

Another problem that Idol had this past year is with the talent that they people had to choose and vote on.  The talent on this year’s Idol was less than stellar – which could be the reason why the ratings for the show were down and lack of ticket sales have caused the cancellation of some of the dates on this summer’s “Idols On Tour” show.

Fox can see the writing on the wall and they’re going to do everything in their power to save this show – one of the few network television shows that can guarantee audiences of 15-20 million each and every week.

The Hollywood Reporter is reporting this week that Fox is close to bringing in Nigel Lythgoe, who along with Simon Fuller, created the world-wide Idol franchise and who was one of American Idol’s producers for the show’s first seven season.  You can bet the house that if Lythgoe does return to Idol you can expect a lot of changes. 

One of the changes could be seeing the show going back to a three person judging panel.  Lythgoe was not a big fan of the addition of a fourth judge, because he felt that it took the focus off the contestants.

And there could be changes to the judging panel.   Only two of current judges have a contract – Randy Jackson and Ellen Degeneres.  Jackson is on the final year of his contract and Degeneres has a multi-year contract; and they have yet to sign Kara DioGuardi (who has a one year at a time contract arrangement).  If Lythgoe has his way – the only judge to be safe on the panel is Randy Jackson.

Who would Lythgoe bring in to take Simon Cowell’s place on American Idol?  He has a pretty strong wish list and any of the names – such as Sir Elton John, Justin Timberlake, Harry Conick, Jr., Usher and Chris Issak – would be a welcome addition to the show.  He has even mentioned that he wouldn’t mind seeing Paula Abdul come back to the show – but that might be a little difficult now that she has her own show coming up on CBS.

Since this original post -- a few things have happened in the land of American Idol.  Thursday, July 29th -- Ellen Degeneres announced that she is leaving the show after just one season.  She explained her reasons in this press release:

 "A couple months ago, I let Fox and the 'American Idol' producers know that this didn't feel like the right fit for me. I told them I wouldn't leave them in a bind and that I would hold off on doing anything until they were able to figure out where they wanted to take the panel next. It was a difficult decision to make, but my work schedule became more than I bargained for. I also realized this season that while I love discovering, supporting and nurturing young talent, it was hard for me to judge people and sometimes hurt their feelings. I loved the experience working on 'Idol' and I am very grateful for the year I had. I am a huge fan of the show and will continue to be."

Also, representatives from Sir Elton John and Justin Timerlake have announced that they will not be part of the new judges panel on American Idol when it debuts later this year.   

In other TV news:

CBS is doing something nice to brighten up the summer TV doldrums – they are rerunning their surprise reality hit show – “Uncover Boss” -- every Sunday night from 9 to 10pm.  This is the show where the CEO of some pretty famous companies, such as Roto-Rotor, Waste Management, 1-800-Flowers, and more, go undercover to things really are with their companies.  In the end, the CEO lets everyone know who he really is and they institute some of the ideas the workers of the company mentioned to the “Uncover Boss”.  This Sunday – the Uncover Boss is from Hooters.  

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