Interview with Nigel Lythgoe

This article  from RealityTvMagazine, posted on various message boards, features an interview with AI producer Nigel Lythgoe.   There’s been talk about AI5 featuring more cutthroat competition between the contestants already, but here Nigel spells it out–

…Well, Ive never heard kids blame other kids on stage to their faces before, and that has occurred this season.   I have never heard people quit on stage in front of everybody and give the judges a mouthful and say I am quitting the show, because of what youve said or because of what youve done, and that has occurred.   Everybody seems to have more attitude this season…Ive never seen people willing to sh*t on other people as much as this crowd…they were foul-mouthed with each other.   I mean thank god they werent any sharp instruments.    

Heh.    In other words, the nasty bits were edited in this year, rather than left on the cutting room  floor  ;).  

I wonder if  Nigel and company got a good look at Rockstar:INXS last summer?   Every Monday show featured highlights from the big ole’ mansion the contestants lived in.    House life  appeared to center around conflict and drama, which usually spilled over into the performance and elimination episodes.   Here,  contestants were invited to  watch video  replays of the most dramatic moments right on stage.    Of course, afterward, even more drama ensued.   Story arcs for the contestants were drawn from the conflict. The winnner, JD Fortune, started out as the House Asshole, who eventually  developed some humilty.   His arc was the perfect Redemption Story.   When he finally won, it was actually moving.    Developing story arcs out of the contestant’s relationships could really give  AI an edge it didn’t have before.   Or, it could come off as really really contrived.    Or, all the backstabbing and sh*t-stirring  might stop  once the audition rounds are over, and the actual competition begins–in which case, never mind.

Other highlights in the article–

  • According  Lythgoe, “It appears that Kelly isnt clearing some of her music for American Idol which is very strange.   He thinks Kelly may not be aware of this, and hopes to work it out with her.   Actually, though I find  her refusal  amusing, it doesn’t seem very smart.   She’s already managed to separate herself from Idol as an artist, why not feature her music on the most popular show on television?  
  • Lythgoe  swears they haven’t tightened up the contract in order to keep contestants from leaving the way Mario Vazquez, a contestant that was chosen for, but subsequently dropped out of the Top 12 did. Actually, in the end they got a piece of his career anyway.   Plus, the resulting media coverage after he quit was good publicity for the show.   And, in the end,  they got the winner they wanted (Miss Double-Platinum).    AI wins–poor Mario, he of middling talent–not so much.  
  • Unfortunately, according to Lythgoe,  AI will once again feature “songwriters and genres this year.  UGH.   Eliminating those  ghastly theme nights and giving the contestants an opportunity to choose songs that fit their individual style made for  better and more  original performances. I liked that.  The specter of John Stevens singing  salsa, though  entertaining in a train wreck sort of way, was pretty  horrifying.  I guess they want the train wreck back.   While they’re at it, I hope they bring back the big cheesy production numbers too.   Preferably with the contestants wearing lemon-yellow outfits. Super Bonus Tidbit Not in the Article–the horrible yellow outfits the AI3 contestants wore for their finale medley? Nigel’s idea.  
  • About the boys, Nigel says, …This season, our boys are very strong.   I dont think they are the best lookers, but their talent is extremely strong.   Yeah, they’re all bald and gray-haired.   Except for  Ace.   Expect a guy to win this year.   Of course, that was the conventional wisdom this time last year.
  • Tamara Gray, Jennifer Hudson and Bo Bice are his favorite contestants.   Jennifer Hudson?   Who knew?   I wonder if he’d say that if she hadn’t landed the lead role in “Dreamgirls.”
  • Lythgoe says that in cities like New York they get a lot of “fakers.”   Heh. People who’ve been around the block a few times are a little harder to manipulate.   See: Maroulis, Constantine.

According to this  article, covering the same press conference, Lythgoe admits  to being  the brains behind the  elimination night idea  that  features  splitting the contestants into winning and losing groups, then making one or two guess which group they’re in.  Humiliating the contestants by making them wear fugly outfits is one thing, but the whole “either way you look like a jerk” deal he’s got going there is beyond the pale.   In fact, he says–

“I think it’s exceptionally mean…it’s one of the meanest things we did, and I put my hand up. I’m to blame for it…. It would be very boring if we just say you’re in, you’re in. I’m not making anybody eat bugs or stand on their head in the middle of the jungle. It’s only mean in a good-hearted way.”

Nice Oxymoron, there Nigel.  

And from this  item, tidbits from Randy–

¢ Renditions of Rascal Flatts’ “Bless the Broken Road” were common at the auditions.
¢ During the audition episodes, look for singers who made outrageous wardrobe choices.
¢ Be ready for more “rockers” in the mold of last season’s Bo Bice and Constantine Maroulis.
¢ No guest judges will join the panel of Jackson, Abdul and Cowell.
Speaking of audtions, I found a list of songs that will be featured during the Hollywood Rounds, posted by Spoilerai at the AI forums at Survivor Sucks.
Bat Out Of Hell
Bless The Broken Road
Cant Fight The Moonlight
Dim All The Lights
First Cut Is The Deepest
Hopelessly Devoted To You
I Believe In You And Me
Ill Never Love This Way Again
If I Ever Fall In Love Again
Never Gonna Give You Up
Unbreak My Heart
Apparently, we can expect to hear these songs, ad nauseum.
“If”? That song by Bread?   Please NO.
Finally, while poking around the RealityTVMagazine site, I found this.   The magazine is co-hosting a Reality TV Convention in Nashville, June 3rd and 4th.   They are hoping to feature around 100 Reality TV stars, including former AI contestants.   Jessica Sierra and Kimberly Caldwell are already on board.    Nothing says “has been” or “never was” like appearing at a convention.   I’ll watch that list grow with much trepidation.

Tomorrow.   More  Spoilerage.   In  Other Words–I Spend The Morning Googling My Brains Out.