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HOME > American Idol > American Idol 10

Pia Toscano never was a frontrunner, 'American Idol' producer says

By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 04/11/2011 

Pia Toscano's American Idol elimination was a huge shock to viewers, however the tenth-season finalist's ouster apparently wasn't a surprise to Nigel Lythgoe.

"I know the [voting] results, so I know that she was never a frontrunner. It isn't so much that. When I heard that she was going, I was pretty upset and angry, you could say. But the more I've thought about it, the more I've calmed down and realized that at the end of the day, this is going to happen every week now because the talent is so strong," the Idol executive producer told Yahoo! Music on Friday.

"The fact of the matter is that it appears that Pia did not connect with the audience as much as we maybe think she did, and she wasn't voted through. That's the fact of the matter. It's a huge drop because she's never been in the bottom three before, but neither was [Casey Abrams] -- neither was [Paul McDonald] last week -- So, every week now it's going to happen that a really good singer goes."

Lythgoe explained he doesn't agree with criticism that Toscano's ouster was an example of why Idol judges Jennifer Lopez, Steven Tyler and Randy Jackson should not have previously used their one-time "The Judges' Save" -- which gives them the ability to unanimously prevent the elimination of one finalist during the season -- on Abrams so early in the competition.

"It's a judges' decision. So, it's all subjective. Nobody's right here and nobody's wrong. I agreed with 'The Judges' Save' of Casey. I think Casey is unique and really good for Idol. He doesn't just give us the same old singer every time. He gives us something totally different. I'm all for that," Lythgoe said.

However Lythgoe suggested Idol may consider changing its format to mirror So You Think You Can Dance -- which he co-created and executive produces -- in order to eliminate the possibility that standout performers don't survive the competition's initial finals rounds.

"If we changed the rules -- maybe next season, maybe look at doing the same thing we do with So You Think You Can Dance -- America votes for the bottom three [vote-getters] and then the judges decide who goes home and they take the blame," Lythgoe added.

"I would certainly suggest it, but it's not my format, so it isn't something that I can do. If you're going to change a format, you really have to go to [producer Simon Fuller] and say, 'Are you prepared to change the format? Would it make more sense to do that?' I think it'll be thought about, but at the same time, where do we start with that?"

While Toscano's exit has reignited the theory that female American Idol finalists have a harder uphill climb than male contestants because young women and teens are heavy voters, Lythgoe said he disagrees with the idea that women are less likely to win Idol.   
"I think girls have done very well in this. If we look at [Fantasia Barrino] and Kelly Clarkson. If we look at Carrie Underwood, if we look at Crystal Bowersox last year -- very, very close -- let's see at the end how the two [remaining] girls [Lauren Alaina and Haley Reinhart] do." Lythgoe said.

In addition, although Lythgoe said Idol may change its format for future seasons, limiting the amount of votes a viewer can cast is unlikely to be among the changes.
"I don't honestly see that happening. I don't see when you had 100 million votes why you would then say, 'Let's limit it.' Because then people would turn around and say, 'Votes have been bad this year. You only got 20-million votes.' I don't see that happening in a logical sense of the word," Lythgoe added.

"I can see a discussion for maybe changing it. Again, who knows. That's next season. The fact is, this season, we're going to be disappointed week on week because the talent is so strong, because we now care about the talent."

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