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Archive for January, 2011

No Simon Cowell, ‘Idol’ has biggest year-to-year debut dropoff ever

American-Idol-In-NJ-350x233How important was Simon Cowell to “American Idol”?

We’re finding out now. The show opened season 10 with 26.1 million viewers, in preliminary ratings, down 13 percent from 29.9 million a year ago. That’s the biggest drop-off year over year for the program.

And it’s aging fast.

Teen numbers were down an alarming 28 percent. In the 18-49 demographic, the show was down 18 percent.

It’s the worst debut for the show since its 2002 summer debut. The final numbers (which I will update when I get them later today) are usually slightly better but it will still be down by at least 10 percent.

In other words, not a lot of good news for Fox. I thought curiosity would generate comparable, if not better, ratings than last year, at least opening night. I was wrong.

Fox has yet to release its ratings numbers yet. I presume they are trying really hard to find something positive to say.

Continue reading No Simon Cowell, ‘Idol’ has biggest year-to-year debut dropoff ever »

‘American Idol’ auditions, episode 1, season 10: just say no? No!

What do you think of Steven Tyler so far?

  • He’s a blast of fresh air! Thumbs up!
  • I’m still on the fence. I need more.
  • Irritating to the nth degree. Fail.

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Our first two hours of season 10 of “American Idol,’ or more importantly, “life after Simon Cowell,” felt different, more positive, more uplifting, less prickly.

Did that make it duller? Just a smidge. I felt the void. And it definitely made it easier for the contestants.

New judge Steven Tyler in an interview said they saw maybe 100 contestants per city. I this case, Ryan Seacrest said 51 made it from the New Jersey auditions. Under Simon’s reign, no individual city ever got to 50 that I can recall. With him, it would be more like 15 to 25 people.

So clearly, a lot of people who would have been rejected in years’ past made it this time around. And there were a couple of singers we saw that I thought didn’t deserve a golden ticket but got them anyway. Jennifer Lopez at times …

Continue reading ‘American Idol’ auditions, episode 1, season 10: just say no? No! »

My talk with Ryan Seacrest and photos of him through the years

Ryan Seacrest a couple months ago came to the Ronald McDonald House near Emory and I spoke with him for a few minutes. Here’s the video and me NOT doing a good job introducing myself and Ryan:

And for fun, here are shots of him through the years since “Idol” began. Notice the blond tips disappearing over time:

2002 with his buddy Brian Dunkleman:
Brian Dunkleman.

2003:

Hollywood Renaissance Hotel

2004:2721617

2005:

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2006:

Ryan Seacrest with runner-up Katharine McPhee in 2006

Ryan Seacrest with runner-up Katharine McPhee in 2006

2007:

CREDIT: AP

CREDIT: AP

2008:

Ryan Seacrest with David Archuleta at the May, 2008 "Idol" finale

Ryan Seacrest with David Archuleta at the May, 2008 "Idol" finale

2009:

CREDIT: AP

CREDIT: AP

2010

Ryan at Children's Healthcare at Emory in November, 2010. CREDIT: Rodney Ho

Ryan at Children's Healthcare at Emory in November, 2010. CREDIT: Rodney Ho

An acquaintance from high school linked this to Facebook–Jimmy Fallon doing his best Run DMC imitation with Steven Tyler:

Plus, here is Jimmy’s joke-filled “pros” and “cons” about “Idol,” though as we just noted above, the “highlights” joke is so 2004! He did laugh about last year’s winner, “what’s his name.”

TV PREVIEW
“American Idol,” season 10 begins at 8 p.m. on …

Continue reading My talk with Ryan Seacrest and photos of him through the years »

A summary of ‘Idol’ changes and their potential impact, my interview

2107_thumbzoomThis is what ran in the print edition of the AJC today:

“American Idol” executives knew season nine was a major disappointment. The chemistry among the judges was poor. The winner, Lee DeWyze, is already practically forgotten. Even host Ryan Seacrest seemed off his game. The result: ratings fell 9 percent year over year.

Tonight, “Idol” returns for a 10th season and, for the first time, minus Simon Cowell. He was the straw that stirred the “Idol” drink, hammering singers with brazenly frank feedback that shocked and captivated Americans back in 2002.

But his absence isn’t stopping the show from trying to stay No. 1. Here’s a quick summary of notable changes and the potential impact they may have on viewers:

Judges:

Besides Cowell, two other judges are gone, reducing the number from four to three: Ellen DeGeneres (after one season) and Kara DioGuardi (after two seasons). Only Randy Jackson remains from the original crew. Singer/actress Jennifer Lopez and Aerosmith …

Continue reading A summary of ‘Idol’ changes and their potential impact, my interview »

Steven Tyler shows off his nuttiness to reporters on a phone conference

steven-tyler-idol-judgeSteven Tyler was in a seriously spirited mood during a 20-minute phone conference today with reporters. He made comments about publications like Deadbolt and reporters’ names like Lipshutz and someone named Oleta Diamonds. He created his own warped reality show idea about being stuck in a bottle in the ocean. He even started the conference almost saying a dirty limerick involving a man from Kent.

We each only got one question and there was no way to do follow up. Only about 15 reporters got questions in. I’m sure there were a lot more who got in too late to ask one. I called in 10 minutes early and managed to get in, fifth in line. Not bad.

He said he has more than a one-year contract. (So did Ellen DeGeneres.) He said he isn’t walking away from Aerosmith, that they’re actually working on a new album and a tour overseas later this year.  He, of course, said only nice things about J.Lo and Randy Jackson. He likes Carrie Underwood and got to know her because a friend wrote a …

Continue reading Steven Tyler shows off his nuttiness to reporters on a phone conference »

An interview with Richard Rushfield of ‘American Idol: The Untold Story’

Richard Rushfield. CREDIT: Nicole LaPorte

Richard Rushfield. CREDIT: Nicole LaPorte

Here’s my email interview with Richard Rushfield, author of “American Idol: Untold Story.” The book is out today, January 18.

What do you consider the biggest revelations you got from your research? Were  there any surprises after the fact?
As an Idol nerd, the stories of the show’s origins were the most interesting for me.  The choices that they made, that easily could have gone the other way that shaped the show.  For instance, we take it for granted that the judges panel should be made of three people now. Its the classic Idol composition, copied by every competition show on the air.  But three judges was never the plan.  It was supposed to be four, but the fourth dropped out just before shooting, too late to be replaced. And then they tried again to get it to four the next year, but that judge quit after shooting on the auditions had begun.  So it just got stuck at three.
I also love hearing the stories of what it …

Continue reading An interview with Richard Rushfield of ‘American Idol: The Untold Story’ »

Reading the new ‘American Idol: The Untold Story’

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I received an advance copy of Richard Rushfield’s book “American Idol: The Untold Story” with a bit of a heavy heart. Because, yes, I know, I could have written a book like this. My wife tells me that frequently.

Rushfield, who writes for the Daily Beast,  is eminently qualified. He covered the show for the Los Angeles Times and since season 6 has spent a lot of time on the set of the show. Being here in Atlanta, I’ve always been handicapped by not having access to the show’s behind-the-scenes people. He did have that. My advantage is I have covered the show since day one.

So did Rushfield really break any big news? No. Given how much the show has been covered over the years by me and many others, that would have been a tall order. But if you want a trip down nostalgia lane with some interesting tidbits thrown, this is a quick, easy-to-read journey.

He snagged sit-down interviews with the show creator Simon Fuller, who rarely gives interviews;Simon Cowell; and Nigel Lythgoe, …

Continue reading Reading the new ‘American Idol: The Untold Story’ »

Carson Daly in talks to host NBC’s ‘Idol’ rival ‘The Voice;’ I’m quoted in USA Today

carson-dalyCarson Daly always struck me as the pre-Ryan Seacrest Ryan Seacrest.

The NBC late-night talk show and former MTV host is in talks to host NBC’s “The Voice,” set to air this spring as a direct rival to “American Idol,” according to deadline.com. He has always been big music guy, having hosted “Total Request Live” during its heyday.

I’ve interviewed Daly once for a story about Pandora. He’s a nice enough guy but also a bit vanilla bland.

“The Voice” is based on a Dutch series in which four judges (yet to be selected) will turn their backs to the contestants. First one who likes them will pick turn around and have that voice on their team (and also see if they look more like Carrie Underwood or Susan Boyle.)  Each judge will have a team that is culled down until one person on that team is left. Those four compete in the finale to win a recording contract.

-I’m quoted in today’s USA Today about “Idol.” Check out the entire story by Bill Keveney here.

“Without Simon, I’m not sure …

Continue reading Carson Daly in talks to host NBC’s ‘Idol’ rival ‘The Voice;’ I’m quoted in USA Today »

Kara DioGuardi skirts questions about ‘Idol,’ saving revelations for… a book

110113karadioguardi1At the Television Critics Association shindig I’m missing, Kara DioGuardi was booed by TV critics for refusing to answer even the most basic questions about “American Idol.”

She was on  a Bravo panel about her new “Platinum Hit” show coming up this summer focused on singer-songwriters.

But it was discovered later that she is holding back because she has a book coming out this April. It’s called: Helluva High Note: Surviving Life, Love. Whatever juicy dirt is being kept under wraps.

“So you really have nothing to say about your memories of Idol, good or bad?” one critic asked.

“You know what? There’s going to be a time when you’ll know all about that,” DioGuardi said.

- Fantasia is nominated for an NAACP Image Award for outstanding song with “Bittersweet.”

- Radar Online, not known for its reliability, says Ryan Seacrest is about to propose to Julianne Hough.

Continue reading Kara DioGuardi skirts questions about ‘Idol,’ saving revelations for… a book »

Jam cruise featuring Taylor Hicks raided for drugs

taylor-hicks-gulf-coast3-070210jpg-4cb41ce36f6c8bbf

This story is too funny for words: federal agents on Jan. 4 raided a six-day “Jam” cruise featuring Taylor Hicks, the Grateful Dead’s Bob Weir, Galactic and others.

Shockingly, they found pot, LSD, mushrooms, hash oil, Ecstasy and drug paraphernalia.

After the raid, the ship was allowed to leave port. The story didn’t have details on who was arrested. The cruise returned Jan. 11.

Here’ s a comically poorly shot snippet of Hicks with Robert Randolph on the cruise. The camera person wasn’t under any influence, you think?

Continue reading Jam cruise featuring Taylor Hicks raided for drugs »