American Idol executive producer, Meghan Michaels-Wolflick started working at American Idol the week of live shows, season 2, back in 2003. For that reason, she has a special place in her heart for the winner and runner-up that year, Ruben Studdard and Clay Aiken, respectively. They are the same age–now in their 40s–and share stories about their lives and their families.
On the Inside Disney podcast, the executive producer dished on the judges, favorite and least favorite songs, Disney week and more. (Listen to the full podcast HERE).
Meghan calls judges Lionel Richie, Luke Bryan and Katy Perry “three of the most genuine people you will ever meet…they are approachable” and are “really good friends.”
Most Idol fans know that Luke and Lionel were friendly before they worked together on American Idol. But Meghan shares that growing up, Luke was a “giant” Lionel Richie fan and was “obsessed” with him. When Luke met Lionel for the first time, he was in tears meeting his hero.
Ryan DOES NOT wear an earpiece on live shows!
But when it comes to host Ryan Seacrest, Meghan gushes. “He can pivot on a dime,” she says. “You go into the live scenario and you think about all these segments. 2 minutes and 30 here. 20 seconds here. 15 seconds here. He is like a mathematician in his head running numbers and getting out on time.”
“He doesn’t wear an earpiece. He literally is just timing it in his head and I don’t think there’s anyone on the planet who has those skills.”
American Idol Experience opening was like a high school reunion
Meghan reminisced about the American Idol Experience in Orlando, which kicked off in 2009 and closed in 2015. At the opening, Meghan said, “We had so many alum there. I think David Cook and Carrie Underwood did something together and it was like a big high school reunion.”
Interesting tidbit. The American Idol Experience recreated an Idol show every day. A winner at the end of the day received a golden ticket that allowed them to jump the line at auditions. Meghan says the ticket NEVER expires. And that a singer could either us the ticket themselves, or transfer it to someone else.
“To this day, you could cash in if you want the American Idol Experience,” says Meghan. It’s worth noting that the dad of a hopeful whose audition airs on the premiere won an American Idol Experience ticket. But, she is Delaney Renee, the “singing babysitter” and likely caught producers attention on Tik Tok.
And the state that produces the most talent: Alabama says Meghan
The state that Meghan believes produces the most talent is in the south. “Alabama…provides a wealth of talent.” She name checks Ruben, season 4 runner-up Bo Bice and season 5 winner Taylor Hicks. “There are so many Alabamians that have come through Idol, even in the ABC era.” She notes that this season “there’s a bunch of Alabamians who have gone to Hollywood.”
She teases that a country boy will sing “Stay”
As far as song choices go. Meghan says Rihanna’s “Stay” is one song she could listen to contestants sing over and over again, because “everybody reinvents it.” She teases, “This year we have a guy who’s made it quite far in the competition, who’s a country, male singing it. ” (Spoiler alert: The country boy sings “Stay” for the Showcase Round spoiled in this post. BUT DO NOT SPOIL IT IN COMMENTS HERE.)
She calls “Stay” a song that’s “evergreen” a “chameleon” of a song. “For some reason, it keeps being reinvented over the years.”
Not a big fan of “Valerie” by Amy Winehouse, but a contestant will sing it this season
The song she’d be happy to never hear again is “Valerie” by Amy Winehouse (The Zutons). “That is a song that we hear all the time. People audition with it left and right and center!” But then Meghan realized that the team discourages singers from picking the song for the show so much, that it actually hasn’t been sung that much on the show.
Changing her mind, for an upcoming round, Meghan decided “I think we should hear this song again” adding, “For some reason it resonates with multi genres. Everybody loves that song.”
The show has not yet chosen a mentor for Disney Week
Of course there will be a Disney night this season, and Meghan hopes they go back to Disneyland in Anaheim to film that week (Idol shot Disney week in Orlando last year). They haven’t chosen a mentor yet, but she says, “We love a Disney Mentor. We love someone who’s a Disney fan and can guide the contestants along.