The Hollywood Reporter spoke with the new head of FOX alternative programming, Simon Andreae. He took the place of long term reality chief, Mike Darnell. The interview is ahead of the launch of the network’s ambitious new reality show, Utopia, but the executive had a few thought to share about the struggling American Idol franchise.
A lot of observers aren’t clear on your role with American Idol. What is your involvement?
David Hill stepped up to supervise [after Darnell left]. It happened that he did a good job — he refreshed the set; he got a much better and effective set of judges — but there was a bit left to do. For whatever reason, we ended up with a top 20 [group of contestants] that was less than stellar. David wanted the opportunity to continue the turnaround, so he asked and was offered Idol [season] 14. We touch base every now and then, and he tells me what he’s doing, but he doesn’t report to me. After this season, I don’t know. We’ll take a look at it.
Did Andreas keep the same team in place, despite the failures of Season 13, because he’s given up on Idol? Touching base with “every now and then” sounds like he’s written it off. It’s hard to tell if he’s talking about Hill, or the show when he says “We’ll take a look at it” after this season. In either case, it’s not a very encouraging sign.
The perception is that Idol is a sinking ship. Why keep it on the air?
I think it’s the original and still the best. It’s the only one of the singing shows that consistently makes megastars — I think that is its place on the schedule. It’s arguable that singing shows have been a larger slice of the pie than perhaps the audience has an appetite for, but I don’t think they’ll go away.
I thought Idol had at least two seasons left in it, but now, I think if the ratings sink lower for season 14, there will be no season 15. What do you think? By the way, Andreas used to develop shows for Discovery. He’s responsible for Naked and Afraid. He says, “Your welcome!