Fan Fare

Entertainment behind the scenes

“American Idol” asks fans for a fix

May 13, 2010

As “American Idol”  plods its way to the 2010 finale  after a lackluster season and slipping ratings,  the TV show’s dwindling band of  fans are getting an unusual opportunity to weigh in on what’s wrong with the show, and how to fix it.

idol judges blog Official website has posted a detailed survey which asks fans why they are watching less often — and less enthusiastically — this year, and invites them to rate all the judges individually, as well as the entertainment value of “Idol” mentors and the show’s  celebrity guest judges.

And perhaps most surprisingly, there is even a chance for fans to say how much (if at all) they miss Paula Abdul.

The survey is being conducted by an independent agency. But it suggests that “Idol” producers, or Fox, or both are thinking seriously about what hasn’t worked this year  –  and how they can tweak it next year.

The biggest question on the minds of many fans — the replacement of Simon Cowell — is not addressed in the online survey and Fox has already said there will be no announcement on that before the two-part season finale on May 24 and 25.paula abdul

“Idol” has seen an 8 percent drop in viewers this season, and audiences have slipped below 20 million recently at a time when anticipation and fan fervor has generally risen going into the finale.

You don’t have to look far in the blogosphere to hear the biggest gripes from fans.

Paula appears to be widely missed, Ellen DeGeneres has generally failed to live up to expectations as a judge, and this year’s Top 12 were widely seen as the worst in “Idol” history.

Frank Sinatra-themed week didn’t chime with younger viewers (that episode got the lowest ratings for 8 years),  and  none of the finalists are seen as hAdam_R11_02aving the showmanship that last year  made Adam Lambert (like him or not) one of the most-talked about contestants in the show’s nine season dominance of pop culture.

So stop griping and have your say.

(Or do you think “Idol” s time is already over?)

(Pictures courtesy of Fox, 19 Entertainment, Reuters)


There’s no getting around it, they cast badly this year. There’s no one in this crop with the IT factor, or the ability to make you hurry into work the next day so you can dish about their performance over morning coffee with your cube mates. And then they made the problem worse by such schizophrenic judging that they scared the little charisma these contestants had right out of them. No one is taking any risks, they’re all scared to, so there are no surprises. Even the performances from frontrunners like Crystal that are actually good are also completely predictable.

I never thought I’d say this, because she used to drive me crazy sometimes, but I wonder if Paula wasn’t the secret ingredient to making this show work. Both in fighting Simon to cast people she “felt” had “it” and in the wacko but certainly powerful encouragement she fed the contestants every week by having dance parties at the judges table, declaring them the next musical icon and even when faced with absolute trainwrecks, saying sweetly that they looked so pretty/handsome.

The numbers are ugly. Not only are ratings taking a fairly steady dive (although looking at the ratings, they managed to stall the slide once, the week they Adam Lambert back) but viewer engagement has dropped off a cliff. This week’s Top 4 got 37 million votes. Sound like a lot? Maybe, until you go back and look at Top 4 last season, which got 64 million votes. No wonder the producers have thrown together a viewer survey to try and figure out what went so horribly wrong.

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