Nigel Lythgoe gave a press conference yesterday afternoon. It was very interesting!
First some news:
- Next week’s theme: Songs from the 60’s. It’s the first time the semifinals will feature a theme. According to Nigel, the producers made sure the singers will sing more familiar songs. Says Nigel, Ãƒ ¢Ã¢â€š ¬Ã…â€œThese are the 50 songs you can choose from the 60s…as opposed to letting the semifinals pick a potentially obscure song or one that doesnÃƒ ¢Ã¢â€š ¬Ã¢â€ž ¢t get cleared and theyÃƒ ¢Ã¢â€š ¬Ã¢â€ž ¢re forced to swap out at the last second.”
I wonder what TPTB are really afraid of? Contestants insisting they want to sing their own songs? (Chris Sligh tried, and he was shot down. He lived to tell about it. I’m sure the producers didn’t like that one bit.) Or maybe they are trying to prevent favorite contestants from getting the boot because they chose the wrong song? Hello Sundance! I loved the free-wheeling semis. I say let the contestants make or break themselves. And perhaps, take that daring chance that leads to a big payoff. Elliott Yamin singing “Moody’s Mood for Love” anyone?
- There will be a new set for the final 12.
- Nigel promises–only four celebrity guest coaches this year. He didn’t name any.
- The results show will feature more background packages on the current contestants. (YAY!) Also featured: A Ãƒ ¢Ã¢â€š ¬Ã…â€œWhere are they now?Ãƒ ¢Ã¢â€š ¬ segment. Two examples of ex-Idols likely to come back–Kimberley Locke and Diana DeGarmo.
- Contestants will be able to perform with instruments during the competition. Nigel thinks it worked well in Australia.
OK, I’m down for that. It will be interesting to see how the instrumentalists will fare vs. those who only sing. Anything that promotes musicianship in this show, I’m all for.
After the jump…What Nigel has to say about this year’s semi-pros, and his attempt to explain the controversy away…
According to Rodney Ho, Nigel bristled when a reporter challenged him on whether Idol had been upfront about Carly’s past failed record deal with MCA or not:
Nigel also incorrectly insisted that Ãƒ ¢Ã¢â€š ¬Ã…â€œIdolÃƒ ¢Ã¢â€š ¬ had revealed Carly SmithsonÃƒ ¢Ã¢â€š ¬Ã¢â€ž ¢s past with MCA Records. He was wrong. But he got rather testy when a reporter challenged him on it. The show did reveal her past visa problems so he might have simply forgotten. He said he wasnÃƒ ¢Ã¢â€š ¬Ã¢â€ž ¢t hiding peopleÃƒ ¢Ã¢â€š ¬Ã¢â€ž ¢s pasts at all, though Ãƒ ¢Ã¢â€š ¬Ã…â€œIdolÃƒ ¢Ã¢â€š ¬ has conveniently left out record contract deals. Did they mention JoanneÃƒ ¢Ã¢â€š ¬Ã¢â€ž ¢s win on MoniqueÃƒ ¢Ã¢â€š ¬Ã¢â€ž ¢s Fat Chance or David ArchuletaÃƒ ¢Ã¢â€š ¬Ã¢â€ž ¢s Ãƒ ¢Ã¢â€š ¬Ã…â€œStar SearchÃƒ ¢Ã¢â€š ¬ win? I canÃƒ ¢Ã¢â€š ¬Ã¢â€ž ¢t recall myself.
Or Michael John’s failed deal with Maverick records? Or the fact that Syesha Mercado was a finalist on ABC’s reality show, The One? Don’t forget Robbie Carrico’s days as an Orlando boy bander and Britney Spears’ boy toy. Kristy Lee Cook also had a major label contract, a single and a video.
Here’s what Nigel had to say regarding potential backlash:
He also downplayed the potential backlash Carly is getting on the blogs for her failed time at MCA, saying that most people who vote donÃƒ ¢Ã¢â€š ¬Ã¢â€ž ¢t read the blogs and boards. And since Ãƒ ¢Ã¢â€š ¬Ã…â€œIdolÃƒ ¢Ã¢â€š ¬ isnÃƒ ¢Ã¢â€š ¬Ã¢â€ž ¢t saying anything on air about it, indeed, it probably wonÃƒ ¢Ã¢â€š ¬Ã¢â€ž ¢t matter. He did get quite testy over this line of questioning. Credit the wonderful Star Ledger writer Alan Sepinwall. I emailed Sepinwall and he merely wanted to know (before he got cut off) if they were going to mention their past recording contracts sometime in the future.
Nigel can’t be that stupid. Most of the hardcore fans read the boards and blogs. We’ve been talking about the semi-pros for weeks. What Nigel fails to acknowledge, is that the mainstream press have also been discussing the “semi-pro controversy” for weeks. I can’t see the media stopping–particularly if it appears that the producers are trying to hide something–the media will keep hammering away. This story has legs.
TPTB may refuse to believe this, but the bloom is off the rose. After 6 seasons, the last having the reputation of being not-so-spectacular–throw in winners and runner-ups who’ve been dropped from their record contracts and falling ratings–and it’s pretty much time for a big, fat cynical backlash. When the press smells blood, they don’t let up.
Personally, I couldn’t care less about the backgrounds of the contestants. As long as I’m being entertained, it’s all good. I think people deserve more than one shot. Show business is tough. There are usually lots of complicated reasons why an artist’s record deal falls through or fails to sell. It doesn’t necessarily mean they don’t have talent.
What bugs me, is the producers attempting to play the audience. Check out the contestant bios news organizations received. For example, here is Carly Smithson’s blurb:
Carly Smithson (24) Ãƒ ¢Ã¢â€š ¬’ Currently lives in San Diego, CA, but was born and raised in Dublin, Ireland. Smithson made her singing debut in Ãƒ ¢Ã¢â€š ¬Ã…â€œLes MisÃƒÆ’ ©rablesÃƒ ¢Ã¢â€š ¬ at the Olympic Theatre in Dublin. Smithson moved to Los Angeles at age 13 to pursue her singing career. Before auditioning for AMERICAN IDOL, she was working in a bar and running a tattoo shop with her husband.
To Carly’s credit, she does mention her MCA record deal in her official video at americanidol.com. It’sÃƒâ€š the handlers who appear to be hiding the backgrounds of the contestants.
The producers have always kept little inconvenient factoids about the contestants they wanted to advance to themselves. Or, theyÃƒâ€š kept interesting information a secret about contestants they wanted to fail. It’s all business as usual. The difference, is that the mainstream media appearsÃƒâ€š less willing to kiss as much Idol-producer ass as they were in the past. Bulletin to Nigel: It’s more than the blogs and boards, Skippy.
A final word from Nigel:
“The rules of the competition state it’s if you do not have a contract now. Goodness me, if Elvis Presley came back and was out of contract — and was able to participate through [Idol's] age [restrictions] — then he would be in the competition. Nobody said this is an amateur competition. This is something that people are making up for themselves. It doesn’t matter if you’ve had a professional contract. Kelly Clarkson had a professional contract. Bo Bice had a deal. [Taylor Hicks] has got records that are out there. This is nothing new.”
Elvis is rolling in his giant white jump suit…