Some gossip from AOL’s Rob Shuter:
Sources tell me that producers of ‘American Idol’ have a plan on how to make sure the show survives if Mr. Simon Cowell does in fact leave at the end of this upcoming season.
“Expect to see less and less of Simon this season. The focus is going to be back on the contestants and less on Simon’s harsh criticisms of them, ” an insider tells me. “They also will be spending more time focusing on Ellen once she gets through her first few weeks live from Hollywood.”
The focus back on the contestants? Could it be? Well, if it took Simon’s departure to bring that on. Buh bye Simon!
More evidence–from Lynn Elber of the AP–that the producers are shifting the focus back on the kids:
In focus groups with viewers, it’s about contestants that provoke the most emotion, said Fox executive Preston Beckman, adding, “They want to root for someone and see someone win.”
DeGeneres brings “something unique and will be the nurturing person on the show and create an interesting dynamic with Simon. But at the end of the day, it’s not on her shoulders to carry the show, ” he said.
The people have spoken! And hopefully, producer Ken Warwick is listening.
FOX is angling for a younger “edgier” demographic (Idol’s median age has gone from 31.9 viewers for Season 1 to 44.2 in Season 8.)
In a bid for the youth vote, Fox promotions for “American Idol” are emphasizing a “more authentic feeling, raw and emotional, ” Beckman said, countering any notion that it’s “lost its soul.”
A guest judge such as Katy Perry represents the kind of artist who appeals to teenagers and young adults, he said. Perry, Victoria Beckham and other celebrities filled in for the departed Abdul for filming of the cross-country auditions that kick off the season.
Younger viewers are especially taken with performers such as Lambert and fellow finalist Alison Iraheta who have “a bit more edge to them, ” Beckman said, so that was a focus of the contestant search.
The changes made last year by new Idol executive producer, Ken Warwick, had me dreading the season. Most of my fears panned out– the return to the Top 36 diminished viewers’ ability to connect to contestants early, the Save brought an unsavory “reality show” vibe to the proceedings, and the increased emphasis on the judges meant less singing, and numerous show overruns.
With the return to the Top 24, and the promise of putting the focus back on the contestants, it could be the producers learned some hard lessons from last year.
Believe it or not, I’m entering the coming season with my glass half full. For once. Heh.
How about you?