Ugh, and Double Ugh, peeps.
Simon Cowell told reporters in a conference call yesterday, that now that Nigel Lythgoe has stepped down from executive producing American Idol, he plans on taking a larger role in the show himself .
From Access Hollywood:
…You must never depend on one person. I dont think we would have had the success initially without Nigel but we are onto our eighth season. It feels like it going to be a different show this year because of it and we will see whether that an advantage or a negative.
With Nigel there it became too much of a crowd and he is a very good producer but I think now he has stepped down I probably will get more involved. I already have to be honest with you.
File that under “Be Careful What You Wish For.” Nigel! Come back!
More, (much more, I’m having a hard time shutting up on this subject) after the JUMP…
And, Oh! Boy! Simon’s got some great ideas! NOT.
…I started to get bored because of the middle sections of the show because we had 24 people. By the time we hit say, show five of the live show I felt I had known them for years. The other problem was that they were so media savvy, these contestants, that they never showed us, or you, their true personality. In parts they were like robots. I didnt know much more about them at the end then I did at the beginning. I think it could be just more interesting and controversial than we did last year and that will change.
Id like to see the middle stages of the show change because I think we can make them better. I think we can make the end part of the show much more exciting than we have done before and we have got some ideas which are definitely going to give the show a little bit more jeopardy than we have had in the past. You are definitely, definitely going to see a change to the show and I think it will be an improvement. I feel confident.
Here’s the deal. When Nigel announced that he stepped down as executive producer of American Idol, there was much celebrating in Idol-ville. Some saw this as an opportunity to improve the show, and there were pundits making lists of things to change. Initially, I said it was a good thing that Nigel stepped down, particularly if his heart wasn’t in it, and that perhaps new blood could re-invigorate a program that’s been showing signs of age.
Lately, however, I’ve been less confident that Nigel’s departure would bring all sorts of wonderful changes to American Idol. Watching my first season of So You Think You Can Dance certainly influenced my change of heart. SYTYCD is smart, entertaining, current. The participants, including Nigel, love the art and are passionate about promoting dance in popular culture. The judges are, for the most part, articulate and knowledgeable. There’s some manipulation, but not nearly as much in American Idol. There’s very little cannon fodder at the start of the Top 20. The music selections the routines are set to are imaginative and current. There’s plenty of behind-the-scenes footage that allows the viewing audience to get to know the dancers. Sure, there’s a mosh pit, but it doesn’t interfere with the performances.
All the elements American Idol fans dislike in AI are mostly absent in So You Think You Can Dance–a show Nigel Lythgoe created and executive produced. So who’s the bad guy here? I suspect it’s not Nigel.
Compare the impeccable So You Think You Can Dance to America’s Got Talent, the show Simon Cowell executive produces. Strip everything that dumb and crude out of American Idol‘the horrible auditions, the manipulation, the fake backstories’and that AGT in a nutshell. Simon is all about the lowest common denominator, hence the presence of tabloid king Jerry Springer as master of ceremonies and the so-called “4th judge”–studio audiences that are directed to boo and cheer on cue. The talent is mediocre, but the talent isn’t the point. Contestants are heavily hyped on their backstories, which are typically filled with all sorts of tragedy and bad luck. Awful.
Unfortunately, America’s Got Talent has had higher ratings this summer than So You Think You Can Dance. Sadly, therein lies the rub.Simon’s criticisms of the current AI? He says the contestants lack “personality” and are too “media savvy”. Seriously? It’s the savvy contestants who survive to the end. Idol audiences expect their Idols to be humble, charming and gracious. Behavior that’s anything less gets your ass booted quick. Talking back to Simon is almost an instant ticket off the show. Better to reign it in than risk eviction.
Simon is certainly aware that contestants are caught between a rock and a hard place. I suspect that some of this so called “jeopardy” Simon wants to introduce would take the form of reality-show type stunts designed to provoke the contestants into turning on each other or breaking down in some way during the live broadcasts. Simon says he wants controversy. Watching Idols wig out and get nasty is not my idea of fun. Idol isn’t Big Brother. Viewers like the contestants, they don’t enjoying watching them treated badly. Simon’s way off the mark, here.
Considering AGT’s massive suckitude, and Simon’s misguided criticisms of the show, I can’t imagine he’s got any ideas that could possibly improve American Idol.
Oh, to be a fly on the wall during those Idol post-show production meetings last year. I imagine massive disagreements–Nigel Lythgoe gone after taking the relative high road. His departure–not exactly a victory for Idol. Hey, I could be wrong, but that’s what I’m thinking.
I’ll say one last thing, as this post has become ridiculously long. The producers had an easy way to allow viewers to see the Idols’ personalities last year. How about taking the cute video bits featured on American Idol Extra, broadcast on the obscure Fox Reality channel, and featuring them during results shows instead? I was entertained by these bits, and learned more about the individual Idols’ personalities than I did from anything I saw in prime time. Check them out, here, here and here. So much better than lame viewer phone calls, don’t you think? Just a thought!