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'American Idol' to use special 13th vote number to avoid phone sex line


By John Bracchitta, 03/10/2009 

American Idol's producers have come up unlucky with their Top 13 finals surprise -- at least when it comes to the handling viewers' call-in votes following tonight's first-ever Top 13 performance show.

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American Idol will be forced to use a "special Idol number" tonight for viewers to call in and vote for the show's thirteenth finalist because phone sex services already use 1-866-IDOLS13 and 1-866-IDOLS00 -- the two logical phone numbers that would be used by the show in the event of a thirteenth contestant.

The Fox reality singing competition usually uses 1-866-IDOLS01 through 1-866-IDOLS12 as the numbers used to collect viewer votes for contestants.

During an appearance on American Idol host Ryan Seacrest's KIIS-FM radio show on Tuesday, Idol supervising producer Megan Michaels confirmed that neither number would be listed during tonight's broadcast.

"We have a special Idol number tonight that we will be revealing on the show," Michaels told Seacrest. "It will not be that [IDOLS13 phone number]."

Michaels also added that the show's producers had been aware that both numbers were unavailable and said that the show doesn't plan to acknowledge the number's existence or its the content during the show.

"We don't wanna endorse that," she said

Michaels added that the show -- and specifically Seacrest himself -- will be making a point to stress that viewers dial carefully when voting tonight.

"We have a job for you Ryan, because you're gonna have to explain it very carefully," Michaels told him.

Later in the show, Seacrest also spoke with Fox Entertainment president Peter Liguori, who admitted to being concerned with the nature of the recording on the number. He added that while he had known that the IDOLS13 phone number wasn't available, that he had not personally known what the number was being used for.

"We knew that the number 13 wasn't available," Liguori told Seacrest. "I guess some people [knew that the number was for a phone sex service], I personally didn't. I did know that we couldn't get that number, so tonight during the show we'll announce a different number for that thirteenth contestant."

Liguori added that he didn't think the number change would hurt the chances of the finalist who's voting was connected to that number.

"We'll make sure that the audience is aware of it," he said.

Prior to playing audio clips from the recordings from both numbers, Seacrest jokingly gave Idol judge Simon Cowell some free advice for the next time he wanted to make any "sudden" changes to the show's format.

"Simon wants to make it a Top 13 he should've checked with AT&T first," he said with a laugh.

(Photo credit Fox)


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