'American Idol' producer: David Cook's victory grew from coast to coast
By Christopher Rocchio, 05/22/2008
American Idol executive producer Nigel Lythgoe knew David Cook would defeat David Archuleta as the home viewer votes were rolling in immediately following Tuesday night's live performance episode.
"The votes were coming in from the east coast and the percentage was about 6% in Cook's favor quite early on, and it got wider and wider as the evening went on," said Lythgoe as a guest on Thursday's broadcast of Ryan Seacrest's KIIS FM radio show.
"So I really knew [Cook would win] around 10PM, 10:30PM [west-coast time]."
Cook won Idol's seventh-season title after "97 and a half million" home viewer votes were cast following Tuesday night's final performance episode that saw Archuleta and Cook each sing three songs. During last night's finale Seacrest said Cook defeated Archuleta by a 56% to 44% home viewer voting margin, or roughly 12 million votes.
Lythgoe explained that knowing Idol's home viewer voting results before they're revealed to the public is simply part of his job.
"I'm used to it really. It happens every single week. You've got to keep a straight face," he said. "We always say to them in the beginning of the series, 'Don't look at me and don't ask me any stupid questions because I will lie to you and I'll probably lie badly to you and say something like I'm ever so sorry it is you going home this week.'"
When asked by Seacrest what he told Archuleta and Cook prior to the live finale, Lythgoe said it didn't make a difference.
"It didn't really matter to either of them, I believe, who was going to be the winner," he said.
Lythgoe also weighed in on Simon Cowell's apology to Cook moments before the results were revealed. During Tuesday night's live performance episode, Cowell awarded all three rounds to Archuleta and said the teenager scored a "knockout" over Cook.
"I think Simon with his apology made it quite clear that he felt bad he was so tough on David Cook," said Lythgoe, who was then asked why he thought Cowell felt the need to apologize.
"Just in case it was wrong," said Lythgoe with a laugh. "Let's be honest about it. I think we call it covering your ass."
Lythgoe said it takes "months" of planning to put Idol's annual finale broadcast together, and now that the seventh-season is in the books, he wasn't shy about his feelings on it.
"It was one of the best, no question about it," he said. "That's because the talent that was on it."
Despite the finale featuring performances by the seventh-season Top 12 and numerous other artists -- from the Jonas Brothers to George Michael -- Lythgoe made it clear he thought it was a former Idol winner who delivered the most memorable moment.
"I've got to say for me, and this has been a little partisan, but Carrie Underwood stole the show," gushed Lythgoe. "I thought she was absolutely sensational."