Nigel Lythgoe, Executive Producer of American Idol speaks with TV Week’s Chuck Ross. You can download the podcast here. Or, read the interview transcript here.
Nigel tells Chuck Ross that there will be a major announcement to the press regarding Idol within the next couple of weeks.
Read highlights of the interview:
Mr. Ross: I first want to talk about the show that you directed. They had to whittle down 172 contestants [with] twice as many gals as guys. And right from the beginning of that show, Jory comes out and all six girls come out and I thought, “Well, they’re going to pick one or two, ” and boom, bam, all six girls were out and that certainly set the tone.
Mr. Lythgoe: It did; it was murderous to watch. We sat there, and I was in truck directing, and I was just totally shocked because I thought there were at least two good ones there. But they knew that they had to get rid of a lot of girls that day, and they did.
Mr. Ross: Just so sad. A couple of stories I just wanted to highlight, one that Simon himself thought would go all the way, which is Bailey Brown. She had forgotten her words and that seemed to be the end of it.
Mr. Lythgoe: I know. I’m rather hoping that Bailey will come back next year and remember her words, a little bit like Nick Gonzalez did.
That’s PEDRO Nigel, not Gonzalez….
Mr. Ross: Let’s jump over to the final 24 because that’s what’s on everybody’s minds going into the subsequent weeks here. We had a number of people, I think there were six or seven, that we barely, if ever, had seen before, which I thought was pretty interesting.
Mr. Lythgoe: Well I think that’s the same every year, I think at least now you’ve seen all of them. I remember Kelly Clarkson saying to me, “They never really saw me, ” and it didn’t stop her winning. But it is amazing how people do get lost and unless there’s a major story there, it’s very difficult to feature them. People like Matt and the story with his mom takes a lot of air time and unfortunately we lose them, and although we invest in them, they’re gone.
What have we learned? Have a good backstory–or invent one.
Mr. Ross: That brings up a question that some of the fans have asked me and wondered if I could ask you, which is ¦speaking of Sundance and some of the choices they made last night ¦are a little more personality driven? If they’re going to give the edge to someone, maybe the personality’s going to throw them over if the singing’s not quite there one night.
Mr. Lythgoe: That’s absolutely a fact of life. You have to remember that this is a popularity competition just as much as it is a talent competition. An Idol has to have everything; an Idol has to have personality; an Idol has to be a star. I don’t particularly think, although she’s very good, Jennifer Lopez has the greatest voice of all time, but she’s a star. She has star quality and that is why people adore her. And [she has] a really good voice, not a great voice. And it’s the same with “American Idol.” Not always our best voices win every year, it’s up there with personality, and it’s up there with magnetism. And I think when you’re judging somebody, if they stand out in your head ¦you’re looking at 174 people and [have] got to figure out who your 24 are. So there must be something you can latch onto, and America does that when they vote.
Mr. Ross: One of the other things that the fans asked me to bring up, it’s been mentioned in a couple of the sites, is a little excitement building that maybe we’ll have an appearance with a man known for his glove, Mr. Michael Jackson. Anything you can tell us along those lines?
Mr. Lythgoe: No. It’s not true, is what I can say, just not true.
Mr. Ross: So you’re saying we just won’t see him this year, or is that something that’s just up in the air still?
Mr. Lythgoe: No, we won’t be seeing him.
No Michael Jackson. Thank Finn. A Jackson appearance would generate a lot of press, but his reputation would take the focus off of the competition–not a good thing.
Mr. Ross: Anything you can tell us about the contest we’re doing and how that’s going?
Mr. Lythgoe: No, there’s nothing else that I can sort of fill you in at the moment with, but please, please look towards a major news announcement in the next couple of weeks.
Mr. Ross: Ah ha! Regarding “Idol” and ¦what would it be? Give us one little more tease.
Mr. Lythgoe: It’s the biggest thing that’s happened to “Idol” in five years. But it does include “American Idol” and it does include America.
The biggest thing that’s happened to Idol in 5 years? What could it be? What do you think?