In addition to introducing a fourth judge, unfurling a finessed marketing campaign and the subtracting "Idol Gives Back," American Idol's eighth season will afford less time to the inane and untalented and more hours to quality crooners.
According to an internal Fox memo obtained by an Idol fan site, only three weeks (versus four) will be allotted to the early audition rounds featuring the flamboyant, fawning, feathered and faltering. In turn, a full two weeks will be targeted for the Hollywood rounds, to which 36 wannabes (versus 24) will receive golden tickets.
Both of the above tweaks are aimed at addressing concerns about the show's tendency to capitalize on the car-crash nature of disillusioned warblers. Though it comes a little over a month after the apparent suicide of Season 5 auditioner (and Paula Abdul superfan) Paula Goodspeed, rumblings about this shift in direction started long beforehand, during the summer.
One other change: After a several-season absence, the "wild card" round will be reintroduced, offering rejected singers the slim chance to earn themselves not just a reprieve, but a spot in the esteemed Top 12.
As for "Idol Gives Back," the Reporter says the fundraising blitz will be back in 2010, at which time it will become an every-other-year event (as it always was in the UK version of the show).
The official itinerary for Season 8 will be released early this week by Fox.