American Idol Executive Producer on Themes, Twists and More

AMERICAN IDOL XIV: L-R: Judges Keith Urban, Jennifer Lopez and Harry Connick, Jr., during the "Hollywood Round" of AMERICAN IDOL XIV airing Wednesday, Feb. 4 (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. CR: Michael Becker / FOX. © 2014 FOX Broadcasting Co.

Last month, Zap2it spoke to American Idol executive producer, Per Blankens before the Season 14 premiere about the changes he’s made to Idol and the role of new in-house mentor, Scott Borchetta.


  • Per loves the 3 judge format, because it makes the show go quicker, and and it also allows for an easy way to make decisions. With four members, a way has to be devised to break ties.
  • Adam Lambert was a hit as judge. If they ever need a replacement, The American Idol 8 alum is at the top of his list “We really loved him on the show and I know he had a good time too.”
  • Per felt last years changes made for a great foundation. However, he realizes that some of the meaner twists were too shocking–like kicking off Hollywood Week with the airplane hanger twist which divided kids up into busses that either headed to Hollywood or to back to the airport.
  • There will be guest mentors made of of either former Idols or musical artists who fit the theme. However, mentor Scott Borchetta will have a say in who is invited “so it doesn’t interfere with his thoughts and wishes.”
  • There will be guest performers but not until later in the season, when the field of contestants are whittled down and there is time to fill in the two hour show.
  • On why the past two winners, Candice Glover and Caleb Johnson weren’t successful: “First of all, we don’t know what these last winners [will do] — for instance, Caleb [Johnson], he can be man of the year next year. We never know. These things can happen overnight. But America decides who’s winning, he or she releases a record. If they don’t want to make him or her a star, that’s not something the show can do about it. We just gave them the platform and tried to help them along the way. … Not everyone can be a superstar.
  • On improving theme weeks: “Last year when we met here at the TCAs, we talked about the music themes and it was a lot of critique about the kids having to sing Burt Bacharach and what have you, old songs that they couldn’t relate to. So what we did last year was actually give more power to the kids: “What songs do you want to sing?” And sometimes the songs were great and sometimes the songs weren’t that great because the audience hadn’t heard them as much as the other songs. This year, I think we’re going to find a middle-of-the-road version where we’re going to stay within the themes and still be a little more current.
  • On Scott Borchetta’s role: “We’re down to the Top 24, and he’s going to talk to each kid individually about what he thinks are strengths and things they should work on. So he’s an on-camera mentor and he’s an off-camera mentor. He will be working with the kids for many hours. Not necessarily all of that will be shown on TV, but he’ll also get a piece on TV where he gets to say everything. As we’ve said before, because we don’t have a results show anymore, it’s difficult now to say how exactly that will play out in the Wednesday show. But there will be no question for the viewers that Scott is our mentor this year.”
  • There are NO plans to bring Randy Jackson back. Never say never, however.

Per seems to have a very “America decides who wins, let the chips fall where they may” attitude while Scott has been quite vocal about bending America’s will to get a marketable winner.  I hope they find a proper balance with theme weeks this year. There has to be a happy middle ground there. I’m glad their keeping the judges table to 3. It gets to be ridiculous with the personalities and the TALKING.

So what do you think about what Per had to say? Should he be tweaking the show more? Is he keeping changes that didn’t really work? How would you change theme weeks?  Sound off in comments below.

About mj santilli 33203 Articles
Founder and editor of, home of the awesomest fan community on the net. I love cheesy singing shows of all kinds, whether reality or scripted. I adore American Idol, but also love The Voice, Glee, X Factor and more!