Bits and Pieces

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Idol Chatter from Access Hollywood

Thanks so much to the readers who sent this Access article to me.  Earlier today, I wrote that stunts like Wednesday’s elimination, where Taylor Hicks was asked to pick which group was “safe” was perhaps more scripted than it looked.  Laura Saltman writes this for Access Hollywood’s “Idol Insider”:

“Don’t think Taylor picking the “safe” group was of his own accord. During the commercial break, Executive Producer, Nigel Lythgoe, filled Taylor in on the fake-out handshake to Chris Daughtry and which group to choose. It turns out Nigel doesn’t know who is going to be eliminated. He is kept in the dark until the very end. The only thing he knows is which three contestants are in the bottom three. He let out a huge gasp when Ace’s name was called.”

I suspect that nearly everything that happens on Idol is scripted ahead of time–including all those “fights” between the judges and between Ryan and Simon.  I doubt anything is left to chance–especially in a live setting.  Even if his actions were directed by Nigel, I still think Taylor handled himself well in an embarrassing situation.

ETA: Mary in comments asks, “How is Nigel able to predict “surprise eliminations” if he doesn’t know who’s going home?”  Good question.  I find it hard to believe he doesn’t know who’s going home…

Saltman had more to say about Ace Young and his family:

“I spent some time at the taping talking to his brother Ryan and parents Jay and Kay…All three were feeling very nervous about Ace’s chances this week. They were obviously disappointed with the outcome but very proud and assured me Ace has lots of projects in the works. Ironically, this was the first week that his dad has ever come to a taping. His mom had only come one time before, during the Top 24 weeks. What cameras didn’t show last night, as Ace was singing himself out at the end, was the very sweet gesture he made to his mom. Ace actually came into the audience and sang to his mom. It’s too bad the show had already cut to commercial. Needless to say Kay was thrilled.”


TMZ Gossip

While I’m in a dishy mood, here’s some gossip from

This item has “sources” claiming that Ace Young and Chris Daughtry are demanding divas!

“One source called Ace and Chris, who are roommates, ‘constant complainers.’ They complain about everything from song selections to shopping.  As one source said: ‘If either one of them got kicked off the show, the producers would be very happy.’

The item is a few days old–Ace has already addressed this in his boot interviews.  He claims the Idol producers told him that he was “one of the easiest guys to work with in Idol history.”  In Idol history peeps!  Hee.

This next tidbit is hot off the presses, y’all!  According to TMZ the remaining Idols will be attending an LA Dodgers baseball game Friday night, and the “buzz” is that they may perform.  Also, “everyone on the set was stunned Wednesday night that Chris Daughtry was in the bottom two.”

And lastly:

“As for next week, the theme will be love songs and our spies say that Taylor Hicks is already getting in the mood. He’ll perform in a velvet blazer that he purchased from Traffic in West Hollywood’s Beverly Center.”
Velvet blazer?  Eep.  Well, I look forward to that.  Seriously.  I look forward to that.  And to keep from sounding ridiculous, I’ll say no more.
This last little item isn’t very gossipy.  But it is interesting.  It’s about how Idol is helping artists sell more records by featuring their music on the show:
“Barry Manilow’s ‘Greatest Songs of the Fifties’ soared from No. 24 to No. 4 on the pop charts — a sales increase of 140 percent — following his March appearance on the program. Shakira’s most recent album, ‘Oral Fixation Vol. 2, ‘ which was reissued with a new single shortly before her hip-shaking “Idol” performance, jumped from No. 98 to No. 6 on the Billboard charts.”
“In fact, stars don’t even have to appear on Idol to enjoy a sales spike. Sales of two Keith Urban singles increased more than 20 percent after contestants performed the songs on the show, Foster said. ‘It’s just those songs reaching a new audience, ‘”
“An Idol appearance can create its own media frenzy. After Kenny Rogers sang on the show two weeks ago, People magazine published a story about the country star, and radio stations added his new single to their playlists, Foster said.”
Ma Bell
There has always been controversy around the contestant’s phone lines.  I have two articles here that have raised eyebrows among some Idol watchers. Kellie Pickler has corporate sponsorship.  Sort of.  CT Communications, Inc. has established a CTC Wireless “Pick Pickler” phone bank for FREE text-to-vote in her hometown, Albermarle NC:

“CT Communications, Inc. will have 40 wireless handsets, with text messaging feature for voting, available for supportive fans. CTC Wireless employees will be on hand to assist voters. CT Communications, Inc. will continue to offer free text voting each week while Kellie Pickler is a contestant. “

Since CT Communications is not affiliated with Cingular Wireless, I can’t imagine that they are technically violating any rules.  Although, it does seem like an unfair advantage at first glance, 40 wireless handsets will probably not make a significant dent in the vote totals. 

This article caught my attention.  While Elliott Yamin hit the Bottom 3 last week, his fans were having trouble getting through on his phone lines:

“Based on comments from local fans, it was next to impossible to vote for Elliott Yamin after Tuesday’s “American Idol” on Fox.

‘Tried voting for Elliott for two hours on both my cell phone and home phone. Only managed to get through one vote at 10:55 p.m., ‘ and ‘I dialed for two hours straight to vote for Elliott last night and didn’t get through once’ are typical of the e-mails received yesterday from frustrated would-be voters, echoing complaints made the week before.

And last week, despite what would seem to be an avalanche of votes based on the number of busy signals, Yamin was among the bottom three vote-getters.”

Anytime these types of phone issues are raised, the Idol folks claim that the problems must lie with the local carriers.  However:

“When asked if the phone jam in the Richmond area was a local or national problem, Cavalier Telephone’s Chuck Pherigo said it was most likely a national problem.

If it were a local problem, said Pherigo, he would see reports of phone calls being blocked. And he saw only one such report for Tuesday night.

What would cause a phone jam? ‘Not enough equipment on the far end of the volume of calls, ‘ Pherigo said.

Why do some calls go through while others don’t? ‘It’s based on how they’re set up on the far end to receive the calls. Unfortunately, the problem could be in between.'”

It’s all very curious.