Amongst all the hoopla around the announcement that Ellen Degeneres signed a 5 year deal to be American Idol’s new 4th judge, is an interesting little soundbite from Idol producer, Cecil Frot-Coutaz. From a recent NY Times article on the addition of Ellen:

An array of guest judges will fill the spot vacated by Ms. Abdul for the audition episodes that take up the first few weeks of the season, which begins in January. But it is possible that Ms. DeGeneres will be on hand for ‘Hollywood Week,’  where the top 200 or so performers come to Los Angeles to compete for a spot among the final 36.

In past years that week has taken place in November, but this year it has been moved to January, Ms. Frot-Coutaz said, and Ms. DeGeneres ‘should be there’  if logistical arrangements allow.

I’m sure moving Hollywood Week to January from November has more to do with squelching spoilers, which typically leak shortly after Hollywood Week completes, rather than accommodating Ms. Degeneres’ busy schedule.

If Hollywood takes place in January, I wonder if it will be completed before the audition episodes begin airing–so that TPTB have time to edit the episodes for maximum pimpage. Heh.

Damn you, Idol, for ruining our spoiler fun! Now, just tell us you’re going back to the Top 24 format this year, and I may forgive you…

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  • snuffles

    It’s probably to squelch spoilers. And to cut down on the ability for people like VFTW to dig up dirt on contestants to try and destroy them before the show even begins.

    Also, I wouldn’t be surprised if their upping their background searches and conducting psychiatric evaluations. Between the Susan Boyle meltdown and the crazy Paula fan suicide, I’m sure they’re going to be extra cautious.

  • sonyab

    Oh man! What next?!

  • leome

    Now, just tell us you’re going back to the Top 24 format this year, and I may forgive you’ ¦

    This!
    I guess I can handle no spoilers, just go back to the old format and give us more of the contestants!

  • CDCIdol

    Oh, Simon won’t be a happy camper. He always films his Britain’s Got Talent auditions during the whole month of January.

  • Mark

    Hey, did you notice that in the radio exchange between Ryan and Ellen, there was a mention of a respective “boys night/girls night/results”? Maybe there is hope for that, after all…

    Err… noticed on the other thread you did. I suppose I could be overreading. But some notion of definite improvement would be nice…

  • jack5791

    Mark, I did notice that. Hopefully that means they will be going back to the old format, or at least a different kind of format that doesn’t involve the one from last year!

  • Kirsten

    It’s probably to squelch spoilers.

    Yes. I would be VERY suprised if that is not their primary objective. I’m not sure why they care. So, a few internet loons (as Nigel likes to call us) find out who the contestants are going to be? The vast majority of the public doesn’t care and just watches things unfold. Nothing to tie oneself into knots about.

    And to cut down on the ability for people like VFTW to dig up dirt on contestants to try and destroy them before the show even begins.

    IMO, better to do that before the semi-finalists are picked. VFTW isn’t going to stop doing what it does. I would think that the producers would rather find the skeletons in the closet before picking the semi-finalists than when their chosen one goes kablooey during Week 8 after VFTW reveals photographic evidence that proves the contestant tortures puppies, eats babies and likes instant coffee. Elecrtonic footprints are difficult to erase.

    Also, I wouldn’t be surprised if their upping their background searches and conducting psychiatric evaluations.

    I still think it’s easier to thoroughly check the 50 kids who make it through Hollywood (to the chairs) than the 183 that make it to Hollywood. They are going to be stretched.

    Between the Susan Boyle meltdown and the crazy Paula fan suicide, I’m sure they’re going to be extra cautious.

    I have to give AI some credit here. It’s obvious that the producers of AI do a better job of evaluating their contestants than Simon Cowell does on his shows. The Paula fan is a sad story, but she isn’t somebody who made it to Hollywood to get the full psych eval. She was just an auditioner (still, it was a very bad choice to let her audition before the judges). IIRC, AI has only had one semi-finalist contestant in 8 seasons have a real meltdown (Jessica Sierra, the Corey Clark is clearly an interesting case). I think the world of Josiah Lemming’s talent, but I wouldn’t be suprised if one of the reasons he was cut was because they didn’t feel he could handle the stress of the competition. I don’t think Susan Boyle would have been placed on AI. If she had, the results would have been far worse than they were on BGT where she only had to sing 3 times.

    Now, just tell us you’re going back to the Top 24 format this year, and I may forgive you’ ¦

    Yes please.

  • milajoy

    Damn them. Getting smart finally….trying to foil me…..lol

  • jammasta

    Aww man.

    I was gonna be done after this season since I finally had a favorite win, but that’s probably not gonna happen. But spoilers were so juicy!

  • mmb

    I wonder if they are moving the whole season back a few weeks so as not to compete with the winter olympics….the prime AI demographic (middle aged women) also love figure skating…if hollywood week not until january, maybe season starts later in February, after the Olympics

  • Suzanne

    Interesting, MMB. I wonder which network is covering the Olympics?

  • mmb

    NBC is covering the winter olympics, which run from feb 12-28….if i were tptb i would not want to have voting shows on the same nights as the olympics

  • jumpstart

    Now, just tell us you’re going back to the Top 24 format this year, and I may forgive you’ ¦

    Amen! I hated last year’s format so much, that I actually missed a few episodes without “missing” them. Back to the Top 24 … Please!

  • will

    As I noted in a comment yesterday, I believe Ellen may have let slip with a spoiler of her own in her interview with Ryan, when she said she would be seeing him three nights a week — “boys night, girls night, and results night” — which, if I’m not mistaken, means a return to the Top 24 format. And if so, may I say YAY!

  • anijsch

    If Hollywood takes place in January, I wonder if it will be completed before the audition episodes begin airing’“so that TPTB have time to edit the episodes for maximum pimpage. Heh.

    Or it doesn’t matter so much, because they plan to fill the first audition episodes with mostly scenes about the judges. With their line up with the guest judges and the need to give everyone at least a little airtime, they have not a lot time left to show the contestants.

  • hypnoticwhisper

    *screams like a maniac* ok not really… i’m in a library so I cant do that. I DEEPLY HATE the top 36 format. this upcoming season will suck on so many levels. If they changed it back to top 24, I would be more accepting.

  • Kirsten

    I wonder if they are moving the whole season back a few weeks so as not to compete with the winter olympics’ ¦.the prime AI demographic (middle aged women) also love figure skating’ ¦

    Last time this happened, FOX counter-programmed the Olympics with AI, so I don’t see them changing their ways this time around either. They probably figure that that people want something other than sports to watch.

    The Winter Olympics run from Feb 12-28th. Figure Skating will start on Feb 14th and complete on Feb 27th. For American viewers, the number one skating event is the women’s free skate and that occurs on Thursday the 25th. Women’s short program is Tuesday the 23rd. Pairs’ are Feb 14/15 (Sun/Mon), Men’s are Feb 16/18 (Tue/Thu), Ice Dance 19/21/22 (Fri/Sun/Mon). The last Winter Olympics were held in Torino, Italy so the competitions were recorded for broadcast later (ie the results were known). This time, the Olympics are in NA with prime events like ice skating scheduled to occur live during prime time EST.

    This year, the semifinals started on Tuesday Feb 17th.

    I have no idea what this will mean for Canadian viewers. CTV has the broadcast rights for both the 2010 Olympics and AI. I’ll be catching AI on MJs for those weeks.

  • maturin

    If they had used the Top 24 format this year, we could have had three more performances each from Kris, Adam, and Allison!

    Weeps aloud.

    If they had used the Top 24 format this year, we could have had three more performances each from Danny Gokey!

    Weeps (in a different way).

  • BootStar

    Going back to a Top 24 format would do a lot to win over the Ellen skeptics, I’m guessing. Same folks seem to prefer the season 7 format, primarily because it was more singer-centered, and the idea of fewer judges.

  • luvadamlambert

    I really liked the top 36 format.I’ll never forgive idol although I love of anyway.after what it did(tears)

  • gangreen29

    I can never keep myself away from spoilers so it will be interesting to go through a spoiler free hollywood. Also, I know I am not in the majority with this but I prefer the top 36 format. The top 24 format just drags on. It leads to fatigue by the time the top 2 comes around. I like each week anticipating a completely new set of singers, and the wildcard is one of the more exciting aspects of the show. I know too that if the 24 format came back their would be a fair share of people whining about how unfair it is that the genders have to be equal because one gender is “ssoooo much better!!”.

  • chessguy99

    With the way they seem to draw out the initial (pre-judge) audition process; my guess is they pretty much know who the top 50 or so are and they will get the little extras in the audition shows. I mean, they knew what exactly they had from every city before Simon and company got to hear one note. Has it been like that in previous years?

  • leeaundra

    How long is Hollywood Week in actuality – is it a real-time week for the contestants? I am gathering that the top 36 was new with season 8?

    To explain my lack of knowledge:

    I detest the audition episodes and have watched very, very few over the years. A lot of bad singers and a handful of decent ones – not entertaining for me.

    I watched the first three seasons pretty religiously (once the auditions were over). I skipped seasons 4 & 5 because of lack of interest in the contestants (and something that happened in the season 3 final performances really irked me). I returned for season 6, 7, and 8 (beginning at the top 12/13) because there were contestants I could root for.

    I am not a fan of demanding equal numbers of men & women regardless of talent. If that is what the top 24 means (I don’t know, because I don’t watch that part), I’d rather it not come back.

    My biggest complaint with Idol as a show is that it eats up way too much primetime at the beginning showing stuff I don’t find entertaining. Bad singing? I can do that for myself.

  • Sassycatz

    The top 24 format just drags on. It leads to fatigue by the time the top 2 comes around.

    You mean, for the contestants or for the audience? I have no problem in terms of the contestants. I don’t mean to sound like a hard-ass about it but this contest SHOULD be hard and the contestants should be tested because then you separate who can handle the hard work, soldier through the grind, and think fast on their feet from who can’t. Test them now, or they’ll be tested later.

    As for the top 24 vs. the top 36, the top 24 is a far superior format. It allows good contestants who need to get a little comfortable on stage a chance to do that, instead of being axed all at once. It also doesn’t let people get by as easily with just being pretty or just being someone with a hard luck story. Viewers have a chance to really “live” with many more of these people for three additional weeks before they get on the big stage and you usually get a stronger top 10 for your trouble. Now, if they also get rid of the judges’ choices as well, then we can lose contestants like Megan Joy, Michael Sarver, Jorge, and Jasmine — I know some of these were voted in, but I’m considering all the format changes they made: top 36 + judges. I think that group of four would’ve never made it under the top 24 system. Not sure Lil would’ve either, to be frank. Plus, we would’ve had all those strong women in the competition that were wiped out in one fell swoop early in the season because they weren’t attractive guys appealing to the majority female audience.

  • gangreen29

    I mean that it drags on for the audience. It is just too many weeks of seeing the same people from top 24 to top 2. The top 24 format sucks any energy out of the competition until the top 12. The early weeks are just about who sucks the least, instead of the top 36 were it is a focus on who is the strongest and and the excitement of a contestants first performance. These contestants have gone through auditions and hollywood and most of them are not exactly green to the music industry, so I see no reason why they need even more time to feel comfortable on stage. I think it is odd also that people keep referring to the top 24 as the season 7 way, considering that is how the competition has been since season 4. To me that means people are just thinking about how season 7 was an enjoyable season and season 8 was not, and they are placing the blame on the format when it was really just poor contestants. Also, who are these great females from last season who didn’t make it?

  • http://www.wholisticbirthways.net austinmidwife

    maturin
    September 11, 2009 at 3:32 pm
    If they had used the Top 24 format this year, we could have had three more performances each from Kris, Adam, and Allison!

    Weeps aloud.”

    and this would have been soooo good.

    “If they had used the Top 24 format this year, we could have had three more performances each from Danny Gokey!

    Weeps (in a different way).”

    LMAO!!!! All I can say is “Dream On” and aren’t you glad we didn’t have to suffer more.

  • Sassycatz

    The early weeks are just about who sucks the least, instead of the top 36 were it is a focus on who is the strongest and and the excitement of a contestants first performance.

    Strongest contestant based on what? Is it only talent or is it attractiveness or luck with a song choice or judge’s influence/begging, i.e., Michael Sarver?

    I know we focus too much on Season 7, but it’s the the last season where you can make a radical contrast since it had a very, very different early format and even a different later format, considering the new judges’ influence as well as the poor time management issues.

    Think about this, for instance, during the top 24 round in season 7, when the “boys” first sang in their group of 12, David Cook was rated by “What Not to Sing” as the 6th best. Michael Johns, Jason Castro, David Archuleta, Robbie Carrico, and David Hernandez were all rated higher than Cook. What’s interesting about that is that all of the guys who rated better than Cook made the top 12. Robbie did not. And on the same night Chikezie, who also made the top 12, was rated as one of the worst.

    Now, granted there were no girls in Cook’s group, but if we throw in the ratings the first group of girls got, six scored better than Cook and only three of those women made the top 12. In fact, one of the women we would have lost under that system is Brooke White.

    But, back to Cook, if we used the season 8 format — leaving aside that there are only boys in his first performance group — he would’ve been gone immediately — especially when you consider what he looked like. All the message boards were commenting on the fact that David wasn’t a bad singer or that his stage presence wasn’t bad, but his hair and pudgy mid section was dooming him right off the bat!!! He wasn’t immediately pretty like Archuleta or Johns or Castro.

    The second week — top 20 — Cook moved from number 6 in his group to #3. Just behind David Archuleta and David Hernandez.

    The third week — top 16 — Cook moves to — guess where? — number 1! Highest rated guy of the night. He steadily moved up (and in a few weeks, he would take over the entire competition.) Suddenly, on week three of the semis, Cook not only sings well and has stage presence, but he’s HOT, OMG, EEEE! LUV!

    Under the new system, none of that would’ve happened. Under Season 8′s format Cook would’ve been middling, definitely not one of the strongest and definitely not the most “exciting” on the stage because he hadn’t yet found his footing. There would’ve been no opportunity for that, because he would’ve been out and sent back to Missouri/Oklahoma immediately. And we would’ve missed quite a ride.

    Link for “What Not to Sing” season 7:
    http://www.whatnottosing.com/seasons.asp?id=7

    These contestants have gone through auditions and hollywood and most of them are not exactly green to the music industry, so I see no reason why they need even more time to feel comfortable on stage.

    Very, very few of these contestants — none of them, really — have ever performed on live TV in front of 20 to 30 million people. Many of them admit to being nervous, let alone their possible careers hanging on the results…. No pressure, as Michael Myers aka Guru Pika said.

    To me that means people are just thinking about how season 7 was an enjoyable season and season 8 was not, and they are placing the blame on the format when it was really just poor contestants.

    The format was a big part of the process that selected the contestants.

    Also, who are these great females from last season who didn’t make it?

    Well, I’ll name three that were at least better than both Lil and Megan, and comparable to Allison in my opinion: Jesse Langseth, Mishavonna Henson, and Felicia Barton. But women were hurt greatly by this format and Simon and Randy’s hormones. OOOH, Megan, you’re such a hot … package!

  • will

    gangreen29 I’m someone who loathed the Top 36 format mainly because it allowed the producers far too much control. There isn’t even a semblance of fairness when the contestants are given only one shot to make an impression on America, and some have been featured extensively in auditions and Hollywood Week, and some are appearing on our screens for the very first time. (See the individual in my avatar for a case in point.)

    The Top 24 has its drawbacks as well, no system is perfect, but as far as fairness goes, it’s far superior IMO.

    ETA: I’m using a bit of hyperbole when I say “for the very first time” — I’m sure we’ve seen them before at some point, but it’s their first time in the solo spotlight.

  • mandabutter

    Top 24 format is far superior. I didn’t find the 36 weeks fair at all. The producers weild a large amount of manipulation, from how they cast/separate the singers week to week and we know from past contestants the singers rarely get their first song choice. I agree with the poster above who said Season 7 would have been substantially different had they used the top 36. I think starting w 12 girls/12 guys offers a unique balance. Yes of course it leads to the argument what if there are 8 talented boys and only three worthy girls…

    We can only speculate but if they had done the 24 format this year, the top 13 or top10 would have shaped up differently. And, two of the singers that were given a spot from Week 1 were gone in the first three weeks (Alexis and Michael) So I’m guessing thats the opposite of fatigue some fans may feel…they were completely forgotten about!

  • Sherena

    The discussion on the different formats has been really insightful. Thank you everyone for explaining things so nicely. I understand the differences between the formats now, I think. One question: so in top 24, how many weeks does it last? There are three rounds for both boys and girls– does that mean six weeks or three weeks?

  • http://www.last.fm/user/RemusL/ RemusL

    One question: so in top 24, how many weeks does it last? There are three rounds for both boys and girls’“ does that mean six weeks or three weeks?

    Three weeks. 2 guys and 2 girls are eliminated each week.

  • anijsch

    These contestants have gone through auditions and hollywood and most of them are not exactly green to the music industry, so I see no reason why they need even more time to feel comfortable on stage.

    I think even from this years top 10 there are two, who come to my mind that would have done better with the old format: Matt and Lil.
    Both would have done better if they had more chance to build up confidence.

    i don’t think last season worked out as planned from TPTB, so I hope they maybe see the advances of the old format.

  • Sassycatz

    And if a forced gender split in the beginning still bothers anyone, remember that once the group reaches the top 12, that’s all abandoned and people are just voted off no matter how many of the same sex are left.

    The first two voted off in a row could be two girls or two guys, thus making the top ten, who go on tour, six of one gender and four of the other.

    I just keep thinking about who are the great people that we missed who could’ve grown over those three weeks and might have even won.

  • mking49

    It really dosen’t matter that there starting in janurary. I think the sooner the better.

  • ruru