Millions of Americans are presumably voting for American Idol sixth-season finalist Sanjaya Malakar each week since the 17-year-old Federal Way, WA native has remained in the competition this long. But as the number of finalists continues to be narrowed each week, Idol executive producer Ken Warwick thinks Sanjaya will eventually be sent packing.
"Personally I don't expect him to be there at the end, but you never know. It's not up to me; it's up to the public. Americans normally get it right in the end... I'm pretty confident Sanjaya will not be the American Idol this year," Warwick told reporters during a conference call on Tuesday. "If the American public likes him enough to put him up there at the end, then that's where he'll be. It's out of my hand; there's nothing I can do about it. So best of luck to him. He's doing the best thing he can."
As for right now, Warwick said he has no problems with Sanjaya remaining in the competition.
"The fact of the matter is if someone is on the show getting attention, it doesn't really bother me, obviously. Quite very often more about his hairstyle than his performance, but he is still there. A lot about this business is keeping people interested, and he's certainly doing that," said Warwick. "There's always going to be one or two contestants that shine for maybe not the reasons everybody thinks they should be there, but that's all part and parcel of the show. I love it when there's someone there and it's a bit controversial; it's good for the show."
While it may not be Sanjaya's wowing vocal performances that are keeping him on Idol -- Warwick offered a reminder that it is a competition -- and added "you do whatever you can to keep your face there." Seeing the hundreds of people that pack Idol's live performance and result shows each week, Warwick said he's gotten the perception that "middle-aged women kind of want to mother" Sanjaya while "the girls love him, and that's why he's there."
"I seriously do [think Sanjaya has made it this far on his own merits or his fan base]," said Warwick. "Say what you like about Sanjaya, he doesn't actually have a bad voice and he changes things up week-on-week. He's always a talking point the next day. He changes his hair. He's a good-looking kid, and young girls love young, good-looking kids. He is of the moment. He's not a bad singer. He's not as bad a singer as everybody makes him out to be and the judges had said this last week. You know as well as I do, part of this business is your communication with your audience, and he certainly has that."
Idol judge Simon Cowell has seemingly given up all hope of swaying the American public to not vote for Sanjaya, and even threatened to quit several weeks ago if Sanjaya was the eventual winner. Warwick said Cowell is "full of it" before adding he "can't really" quit due to his contract.
"Don't worry. [Cowell will] still be there... don't you worry," said Warwick. "I think he was just trying to make a press point, shall we say. It's not up to anybody; if the public put him there, then he deserves to be there and that's the end of it."
While Cowell may not be a big Sanjaya fan, Warwick said the other Idol finalists don't seem to mind his presence.
"Everyone is happy, providing they still stay there. They generally wouldn't grumble until they've been kicked out, I guess. But there's no mumbling and grumbling about it, to be truthful. I think they're all fairly quite fascinated by it all to be certain," said Warwick before explaining how Sanjaya is no different than the other finalists. "It's just that the media seems to have picked up on him. Some have given him a hard time. Some of them are saying, 'Go, Sanjaya, go.' Some are saying, 'Vote for him to spoil the show.' Some are saying, 'Don't vote for him, he needs to be out.' So the truth of the matter is it all balances itself out really."
Warwick concluded by saying that Sanjaya is just one example of what's so great about Idol.
"If he makes it to the end, it's because the American public want to see more of him, and that's what it's about," said Warwick. "It's the great American Dream. You can be flipping hamburgers and cleaning windows one week. Three months later you can be the highest selling artist in America. That's what the show is destined to do. It's the golden ticket. It's as plain and as simple as that. It's the story of a journey to be honest. The television show is the story of a journey of somebody starting out with nothing and hopefully ending up a huge star."