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 Mitovich

What's your take? How would you tweak Idol's early rounds?