'American Idol' will consider changing voting rules for next season
By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 04/20/2011
American Idol executive producer Ken Warwick says the show will consider changing its voting rules in light of this season's voting results, in which the first five tenth-season finalists sent home were all girls.
"It's no secret that most reality shows are female-driven, either by moms or young girls, especially when you've got a group of boys like we've got this year. It does mean that we're going to get a heftier amount of female votes and it's always towards the boys," Warwick told reporters during a Wednesday conference call.
"We are aware very much of the fact that the voting could quite possibly be skewed towards the boys and well, case in point, losing [Pia Toscano] a couple of weeks ago. It's something that we're going to have a long discussion about after we finish the series. We won't be particularly changing anything at the moment. It's going to go the way it goes, and that's the way it is, really."
According to Warwick, the discussion will include the possibility of limiting the number of votes each American Idolviewer can cast -- which several other reality competitions, including America's Got Talent, which Warwick also executive produces, and Dancing with the Stars already do. (While Idol'snewly-introduced online voting option limits viewers to 50 votes each, there are currently no limits on phone and text-message voting.)
"I'm certainly not going to start fiddling with the votes or doing anything that's uncordial, and if that's the way it goes, I'm just going to swallow it -- maybe change the voting system slightly next year -- maybe. Maybe we limit the amount of [text votes] or online votes. We're not sure. We're talking about it, but it will remain as the series is so far for the rest of the series," Warwick said.
"Predominantly young girls and moms are the driving force behind these kinds of shows, probably more prominently now [than in earlier seasons, so] the vote is going to be skewed towards the boys. We're going to have discussions about how we can keep it fair."
One change Warwick told reporters the producers will not consider is asking American Idol's new judging panel to be more critical of the contestants' singing performances. He suggested judges Jennifer Lopez, Steven Tyler and Randy Jackson are entitled to their own opinions and have free reign to express themselves -- even if that means constantly complementing the singers rather than giving viewers some voting guidance.
"I know it's a television show and I know that people love disagreements and arguments, but the truth of the matter is, these singers are all very good. I wouldn't influence the judges to say anything that they didn't honestly believe," the executive producer explained.
Earlier this month, fellow Idol executive producer Nigel Lythgoe also suggested that having American Idol adopt an elimination format similar to So You Think You Can Dance -- which has viewers to determine the bottom three vote-getters, but the show's judges decide which of the three then goes home during the competition's early rounds -- would be one of the changes the show will consider.
While Warwick wasn't asked about Lythgoe's comments on Wednesday, he did acknowledge the validity of recent rumors thatAmerican Idol is also considering adopting a Dancing with the Stars-like elimination format that would combine votes from the show's judges and home viewers.
"That's just one of the solutions or ideas on the table. There are a number... But we won't be putting anything into practice -- Well, I'm pretty sure we won't be putting anything into practice -- until next year," Warwick told reporters.