There's a joke around our house:
Q: How do you know if an Idol executive producer is lying?
A: His/her mouth is moving.
Well, that's exactly the way we felt reading the transcript of the latest interview with Ken Warwick. Not nearly as clever at dodging the press' questions, or as outrageously forthcoming, as Nigel Lythgoe is, Warwick's interviews tend to be dull affairs with him saying practically nothing about everything. There were few things to be gleaned from his latest media session on Tuesday, other than he seems to be trying to discreetly smear Chris Sligh and he doesn't like to be asked questions about why more of the voting results aren't disseminated to the public.
On whether he knew that Sligh had wanted to quit the show: No. Chris Sligh sometimes talks out of turn to be absolutely honest, mate. I was never, ever aware that he came to the producers asking to be dropped out of the competition. So I don’t know what he’s going on about. Basically I think he’s created sort of stirring up interest in himself. I wish him the best in that. He has a good voice, but I was never aware of that, and I think I would have been.
On whether Sligh was told he couldn't perform one of his own original songs: We never tell them they can’t do anything; we can advise them at certain places. Chris is great at self-promotion, and he’s a bright guy. He was a bright guy and there was all these sort of problems with things on the Internet that he was promoting. and we said, “What might affect the competition, you have to take it off,” and he kept saying, “Oh, it’s something to do with me, it’s something to do with me.” But the truth of the matter was, we just advised him against it. We did not tell him he couldn’t do it. We just said, “Chris, it’s not a good idea. People do not respond and relate to songs they’ve never heard before.” [Which would explain why Sligh's band's (Half Past Forever) just-released first CD, a small-time indie affair, rose to No. 22 on amazon.com's sales chart right after he was eliminated, even surpassing his "mentor" Gwen Stefani's most recent release ... because people do not respond and relate to songs they've never heard before. Guess we're an anomaly, since we bought it even before he was eliminated, having sampled a couple of songs from HPF's Web site.]
On why they don't reveal more details about the vote totals: Because it can sway people, basically, it’s not necessary and it’s all completely arbitrated. Part in the fact, it’s an independent company. It’s overseen by Fox standards and practices as well. We find out about 2:00 in the morning what the final result is. It’s checked. It’s double-checked and that’s it. It’s not the sort of thing we would allow the media and everybody to be interfered with or lay things open. I believe Fox makes the actual results week-on-week public knowledge after the end of the series. [Not that we've ever heard of. Has anybody out there reading this ever seen anything like that?] But it’s not something that we would get into while we’re actually doing the show.
On how that information would affect the show: Well, because everybody loves the favorite. And if it became like two weeks that the same people were at the top, it would draw people up to vote for those people [Not unless it was the contestant they were already rooting for; if people saw that their favorite wasn't on top, they would vote harder the next week for the contestant they already liked.] Everyone likes to vote for the favorite. Everybody likes to get behind the favorite. [Based on what studies? We've always heard that people like to root for the underdog, and it's generally held true that when contestants are badly criticized by the judges it actually garners votes for them and they survive. It could explain why Haley, Phil and Sanjaya are still around while Gina is gone.] I just don’t think it’s right and I don’t think it’s fair. Very often it’s quite interesting how the performance, as it happens that week, alters the voting and moves it around and keeps it sort of level. I think that’s a good thing. There’s not need, it’s not necessary for people to know. [Now you sound like the Bush administration. Why wouldn't you want an informed public?] It’s important that people know who got the lowest votes, and that’s all they need to know while the show is in process. [Well, you have to tell us who got the lowest vote, otherwise you couldn't eliminate them! But you rarely even reveal who was second or third lowest. They all just get placed in that group and are not necessarily released back to safety in the order they placed.]
On whether the contestants get any more detailed knowledge about the voting than the public? No, nobody does. I think there are four people that know. [Presumably, that would be the show's four executive producers. So then how is it overseen by Fox's Standards and Practices department?]
On whether there ever been a point when somebody or group has been able to alter the voting results? No, mate, there’s not. We go into it pretty thoroughly, because if for any reason any doubt was cast on the votes, then, of course, the credibility of the show if affected. So we’re pretty hot on making sure this is all very straight and very level. Any kind of manipulation only has to come to light once and be true, and you might as well throw the show in the bin to be truthful. But no, there has never, ever been a situation whereby any technical advantage or this Internet modem dialing and all this rubbish; it’s just not true. There is, as I said before, there’s an apparatus in place immediately to trace any single call out of the 30 million, 40 million we get, 64 million in the final, can trace it back [Yet, you still haven't figured out a way to limit an individual caller from placing any more than a specified number of votes to make the balloting process fairer?]. If there are any anomalies [defined as?] at all, they are pointed out to Telescope and they take the appropriate actions. But it’s never, ever been used. Never. In fact, I’m a little bit doubtful that it’s actually possible to be truthful. Otherwise I can’t believe nobody has done it. And as for radio shows getting behind people and saying, “Vote for them and don’t vote for them and let’s spoil the program by not voting for this …,” whatever, generally speaking, it’s almost impossible. I can’t comprehend the numbers, to comprehend 40 million telephone calls even. If you actually think about it, you think, “My God, it’s huge.” There is very little at this point, thank goodness, that can affect any of the votes that would actually change the actual positions of anybody.
GINA DIDN'T SEE IT COMING
And, frankly, neither did we. In her exit interview with the press, Gina Glocksen said, "I was really disappointed because at no point and time on Tuesday night or before I went to bed on Tuesday or preparing for Wednesday night did I think that I'd be going home. Not this week." She continued, "I thought that I had a really good performance on Tuesday and I was really proud of the song that I chose and the way that I chose to present it ... so it was emotional to know I'd be going home. I didn't even have a chance to be in the bottom three ever, and the one time that I was I'm going home. So it was pretty hard."
Glocksen also told the press that "at the end of the day, you just don't know what America wants," and that she and her cofinalists are "completely clueless" on that subject. "You don't know if it's based on talent, personality... your style, your hair, your clothes. But you just have to stay true to yourself and make sure that you stay focused on what you're there for, and that's vocal talent ... So we just have to make sure we take the judges' comments to heart and stay true to who we are. That's what's going to take you far in the competition."
Glocksen had auditioned for Idol three times previously and made it to Hollywood once before, before making it to the finals this year. In between, she said she took some vocal lessons in Chicago and began "working on how to make her voice work with different genres."
"I wouldn't have done it any other way," said Glocksen. "I'm glad that I got cut the previous rounds when I did because they obviously thought that I had things to work on and I did that and I had a couple years to work on it. I think that really came out this year. I think that the time worked out perfectly for me. I did what I had to do and I did it well."
Season 5 winner Taylor Hicks plays locally tomorrow night, and we'll be there cheering him on. Newsday's Dan Bubbeo interviewed Hicks last week when he was in Chicago. The Soul Patroller didn't seem fazed that his record sales are trailing co-finalist Chris Daughtry's by a mile. "My job isn't to compare numbers. My job is to go out and play the best music to my fans," said Hicks, who also talked about Simon Cowell's criticisms of him while he was on the show. "I thought some of the criticism I got from Simon was unfair. I knew I just had to leave it up to America. But Simon did congratulate me when I won," he said. To read the rest of the interview, click here.
NOT TUCKERED OUT
The Hollywood Reporter says that Season 5 finalist Lisa Tucker has been cast in the Fox half-hour drama pilot "Born in the USA," which deals with real-life issues of blue-collar families in Philadelphia. Tucker, 17, will play a smart, beautiful and quiet girl with a good sense of humor. Tucker has appeared on Fox's "The O.C." and multiple episodes of Nickelodeon's "Zoey 101." When she was 11, she did a nine-month run in "The Lion King" at the Pantages Theatre in Hollywood.
THAT SINKING FEELING
According to TVWeek, "American Idol" continued its their downward ratings spiral, with the show hitting a new season low on Wednesday. While Variety said, "According to preliminary nationals from Nielsen, 'American Idol' (roughly 10.1 rating/28 share in adults 18-49, 26.1 million viewers overall from 8 to 9:02 p.m.) destroyed the competition as usual but was down by double-digit percentages vs. the same night a year ago."
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