Great American Idol Blog

Idol Eyes a New Direction for Next Season

American Idol by Michael Becker/Fox

Not letting the audition rounds' sliding numbers go unnoticed (the season premiere, for example, was down 11 percent from a year prior), American Idol is proactively pondering tweaks to Season 8's early weeks. "It won’t necessarily be anything radical; we just have to figure out how to start the show next year," Preston Beckman, Fox's executive VP of strategic program planning and research, tells Broadcasting & Cable. "The early part [of Season 7] saw some erosion, and then we got to Hollywood."Speaking of new directions, Bruce Gowers — who has directed Idol since its 2002 launch — is said to be on the way out, his departure perhaps fueled by a recent on-set incident (sources tell Variety). Pre-Idol, Gowers directed music videos such as Queen’s "Bohemian Rhapsody." More recently, he called the shots at last year's Primetime Emmy Awards. — Matt MitovichWhat's your take? How would you tweak Idol's early rounds? read more

American Idol's First Castoffs Sound Off

Colton Berry and Amy Davis courtesy Fox

They sailed all the way through to Hollywood week. But that didn't stop fans from whittling down the top 24 wannabes on American Idol. Who called Simon crazy? And who feels she simply had a bad day? Here, the first four casualties from Season 7 speak out. — Dana Meltzer ZepedaGarrett Haley: "I didn't think I was going to get voted off that soon. I was happy with my performance! That was pretty crazy what Simon said [about looking like I'd been shut in my bedroom], but I thought it was pretty funny. I didn't let it get to me because I know I'm a fair kid. I came into this competition staying true to myself so I wouldn't change a thing."Amy Davis: "I have some credit-card debt from fostering too many dogs when I didn't have the necessary funds. I had six adult dogs and two litters of puppies while I was going to school at Purdue. It's a very expensive thing to do so I wanted to pay that off [by winning Idol] because it's a stressful thing in my life. It felt like I was trying to ... read more

And Then There Were 20: Who's Your Fave Now?

Last night on American Idol, America's first vote was revealed, sending Garrett, Amy, Colton and Joanne home. That brings us to 20 wannabe Idols. Who is your current favorite? Vote now for the best male and female.Poll: The Top 10 Guys: Your TakePoll: The Top 10 Gals: Your TakeRelated:• Read Nina's in-depth American Idol recaps! read more

Paula Abdul Names Her Top Picks of the Top 24

Paula Abdul by Sam Jones/Fox

Tonight, four wannabe American Idols will be sent home, whittling the top 24 down to a more manageable 20. If a certain chipper judge has anything to say about it, a certain seven singers will be sacred cows, at least for now. "It would crush me, but there's no way it could happen, if David Archuleta or Jason Castro or Michael Johns [got eliminated]. But I just don't believe they could be knocked off," Paula Abdul tells Among the dozen ladies, Paula says, "I loved Amanda Overmyer's performance. It was awesome. And Alaina [Whitaker], the little 16-year-old, Ramiele Malubay, Carly Smithson.... I would be crushed if any of them were knocked off."While the Idol kids sing like there's no tomorrow, Abdul is out promoting the brand-new video for "Dance Like There's No Tomorrow," her first new single in eons. (Watch and discuss the video here.) Asked how her archenemies wound up contributing a cameo, she reports, "Simon [Cowell] said, 'Unfortunately, I hate you, but I like the ... read more

Claymates Won't Be Achin' for New Album Much Longer

Clay Aiken by Steve Granitz/

Season 2 American Idol runner-up Clay Aiken is eyeing a May 6 release for a fourth album that should appeal to his core fans. Noting that most of the disc's tracks have been picked out already, the 29-year-old tells People, "Sonically, I don't know that we're going down any path that's crazy. I'm not trying to be cool, I'm not trying to be hip. I'm not trying to do anything other than sing stuff that I'm good at."Nor is he planning another extreme image makeover à la the "dark crazy" emo-boy haircut he shocked us with the last time around. "I'm just going to do what I do this time," he says. "But I've got the red wig [from Broadway's Spamalot, in which he's currently starring]. Maybe I'll do that!" Please. No. — Matt Mitovich read more

Idol Exec Defends Decision to "De-group" Hollywood

If American Idol's Hollywood round last week seemed rather whirlwind and free of soapy "You stayed up late macking on that emo boy and as a result didn't memorize the words to our song!" drama, it was by design. Explaining the decision to do away with the group performances and all the cattiness that came with them, exec producer Nigel Lythgoe told reporters in a conference call, "We realized that people were being cut [during the group performances] because they couldn't remember the lyrics, and that is really not the reason to get rid of people, as far as I'm concerned."Lythgoe appreciates that the group element gave the otherwise talent-driven competition some fun conflict — "It was always done for the contentious side of it, to get the [in-fighting]... to see how they coped under pressure," he notes — yet stands by the decision to focus on individuals. "This year, we just wanted to base it on talent." — Matt MitovichMore Idol chatter:• American "iDol" Songs,... read more

American "iDol" Songs, Videos Land on iTunes

I'm surprised it took this long. Kicking off with the top 24 semifinalists gracing the American Idol stage this week, fans can visit Apple's iTunes Store the morning after and purchase music performances for 99 cents a pop. Then, starting March 11 with the top 12, viewers will be able to purchase video of each performance for $1.99. Worried you might forget to dash to your computer and place your order for whatshername mangling "Wind Beneath My Wings"? Have no fear: Effective now, you can pre-order performances by your favorites from iTunes, and the song will be downloaded automatically for you the day after the show airs. (The catch: Once you give the early-round warbling a fresh listen during the light of day, it'll cost you $49.99 to have all traces of it removed from your hard drive.) — Matt MitovichMore Idol chatter:• Idol Exec Defends Decision to De-group Hollywood Round• American Idol's Top 24: Our Take! read more

American Idol's Top 24: Our Take!

American Idol contestant David Archuleta courtesy Fox

On Wednesday night's American Idol, the judges narrowed down the remaining 50 contestants to 12 guys and 12 girls, many of whom we're sure to get to know pretty well in the weeks to come. But for now, here are the basics on this year's batch of Idol hopefuls. — Nina Hämmerling SmithThe Top 12 GuysDavid Archuleta, 17, born in Miami and grew up in Murray, Utah: It's sweet that he worried that other people were tone-deaf and that's why they told him he could sing; plus, those dimples could set a thousand girls crying (à la Sanjaya).Colton Berry, 18, currently living in Staunton, Virginia: The polished performer who was competing with cute, nerdy Kyle Ensley for the final spot. I'll try to get over the fact that he took the tie-wearing would-be politician's place (I know, I know, not really).Robbie Carrico, 26, currently living in Melbourne, Florida: The onetime boy-bander has scruffed up his act to good effect. I was a little surprised he made it through, but I'm curious... read more

Will Idol's Paula Go Dancing with ABC's Stars?

Paula Abdul by Jean Baptiste Lacroix/

Here's a combination that would send the Nielsen meters into overdrive: Paula Abdul, a judge on television's No. 1 show (American Idol), becoming a contestant on the No. 2 show (Dancing with the Stars). According to Dancing pro Louis van Amstel, Idol's own tiny dancer says she loves the ABC competition and wants to be a part of it. "I thought she meant as a singer," says Van Amstel. "But she said, no, she wants to be a contestant. She wants to dance."TV Guide went to DWTS executive producer Conrad Green to see if the door was open. "It's really flattering and a great story, potentially," he said, warming to the idea. "But I would imagine that Fox might have something to say about it. I'd be surprised if Paula were in a position to come on our show." Van Amstel thought the same thing, but says, "Paula told me that contractually, she can do whatever she wants... that Fox has no hold on her." (We tried to reach Abdul for comment, without success). Is it simply a matter of Paula cooling... read more

Sanjaya Hosts Idol TV Guide Special

Sanjaya Malakar by Paul Morigi/

In case you ever wondered where your favorite Idols of years past have ended up, here's your chance to find out. One of them, the infamous Sanjaya Malakar, is actually hosting the TV Guide Network special Idol Stars: Where Are They Now? The show will premiere on Sunday, Feb. 24, at 8 pm/ET and will highlight some of American Idol's most memorable and lovable contestants. There will be exclusive interviews and updates on everyone from Kelly Clarkson to Chris Daughtry, Jordin Sparks, Bo Bice, Melinda Doolittle, Ruben Studdard, Blake Lewis and many more. You may be asking, "Why'd they pick Sanjaya to host?" Well, insane fans like "crying-girl" Asley Feri can tell you that they "heart" Sanjaya big time, and want to see him light up the small screen again. Watch American Idol videos at our Online Video Guide. read more

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