Ryan Seacrest, Randy Jackson, Paula Abdul and Simon Cowel make the cover of Entertainment Weekly this week in anticipation of the new Season of American Idol.
There’s a lengthy article posted online at EW.com. The piece features interviews with them and producers Nigel Lythgoe and Ken Warwick.
The first part of the interview describes some typical scenes during one day of the Hollywood Rounds back in November–the judges complain that the boys are particularly terrible that day (that’s not what I’ve been hearing). Contestants are described as nervous, quirky and typically bad. Like last year, TPTB claim that at this point, there isn’t an obvious front-runner.
Not declaring a favorite at the beginning, as Simon did in previous seasons, worked well for the show last year.
At the start of the Top 24 competition, the producers seemed to favor Ace Young, Lisa Tucker and Paris Bennett. Later on, Chris Daughtry and Kellie Pickler appeared to have TPTB in their corner.
Ace, Lisa and Paris lost steam quickly. Chris Daughtry was “shockingly” voted off in 4th place. And Kellie’s lack of vocal chops did her in by mid-finals. In the end, it was underdog Elliott Yamin, Katharine McPhee (who advanced after early audience favorites like Mandisa and Paris lost their footing) and the grey-haired dark-horse Taylor Hicks who took the top 3 spots. That unpredictability made for some mighty good Tee Vee.
Here are some highlights from the article:
- ”With Simon getting it wrong regarding Taylor, it’s ammunition for the contestants, ” says exec producer Nigel Lythgoe. ”If Simon says ‘I don’t like you, ‘ now they say, ‘I don’t give a s—. You didn’t like Taylor last year.”’
- The producers continue to insist that the talent in Seattle, Washington was abysmal. I guess it won’t be the premier audition city. Or maybe it will, for the snark factor.
- Olivia Newton-John, Jewel and songwriter Carol Bayer-Sager were guest judges during the auditions. Simon in particular, was not pleased, “It’s rather like having a dinner party for four people you know very well…and then somebody says there’s a fifth person you don’t know. One year, we’re going to say to [the producers], ‘We’d like someone to work with you for a while. We don’t think you’re doing a good enough job.”’
- Ken Warwick admits that things were “awkward” with Sager, and that she “could have had most of critiques edited out.” He said, “Lovely lady…but how can I put this nicely? She didn’t add much.”
- The producers are planning a national songwriting contest to pick the “coronation singles” for the Final Two contestants. However, this plan has yet to be approved by Fox.
- Here’s what Simon had to say about Taylor’s song, “Do I Make You Proud”: “That song was horrific”.
- The producers are working on getting some big-name talent to guest star on the Wednesday results show. One stipulation, according to Nigel Lythgoe, is that they be willing to work with the kids. Who’s at the top of the wish list? Sir Paul McCartney, of course. Randy Jackson threatens to “call in a favor” and get Mariah Carey (who he has produced) to guest on the show.
- Apparently Simon Cowell is crankier than usual. Oh that’s a bulletin. That declaration, just the beginning of more spin to come, I’m sure.