While American Idol producer Ken Warwick said last week that the national songwriting contest the show had planned to use to determine the tune sung by the Top 2 during the series' May 23 finale was on the "back burner," his fellow producer said the concept isn't completely cold.

"Hopefully they're still going to do the [songwriting] competition... it isn't really anything to do with Ken and I.  It's to do with 19 [Entertainment] and 19 Music, which is a separate area," Idol producer Nigel Lythgoe said during a conference call with reporters on Monday.  "I do believe the songwriting contest is going to continue.  Keep your eyes on the website..."

First reported by The Los Angeles Times last August, the contest was slated to be open to both signed or unsigned songwriters and would determine the original song heard by millions of Americans as they watch the sixth season's finalists perform.  Idol creator Simon Fuller had acknowledged it would solve a problem that has plagued the competition since its 2002 debut -- the fact that due to the uncertainty over who will be the series' finalists, less-than-perfect song matches are frequently created during the finales.

However last week Warwick said the songwriting contest was on the "back burner" for the moment due to the focus on Idol Gives Back -- a special two-night event that will raise both awareness and funds for organizations that provide relief to children and young people living in poverty in Africa and America. 

"I think it is true... no one's put their mind to [the songwriting contest]," said Lythgoe.  "As Ken rightly said, everyone's kind of focused on Idol Gives Back, which sort of sprang up very quickly and grabbed us."

Lythgoe said the genesis of Idol Gives Back began with Fuller and Richard Curtis, an Australian-born British screenwriter who annually organizes Red Nose Day in the U.K..  Lythgoe said Red Nose Day takes a full year to produce and uses "comic relief" as well as both British and American celebrities to raise money and awareness for African causes through a special on the BBC.

"[Curtis] and Simon Fuller were talking and decided that American Idol would be a good vehicle to break it here.  Richard is much more interested in charities in Africa -- but with this being American Idol -- we really wanted it to be 50-50 and children were a major appeal for us.  That was the genesis and it grew from there," said Lythgoe.  "But I'm sure the songwriting contest will still continue.  And then Ken and I were trying to bounce off the songwriting competition by offering folks a special or a couple of specials on it."

In early February Lythgoe said that Idol finalists from previous seasons could be brought back to perform the original songs during an Idol 6 special episode.

"I don't know [if that's still going to happen] to be frank with you... I'm still trying to push Fox and say, 'Hey.  What's happening?  Would you like it?'  But we are sort of being sucked into this black hole at the moment called Idol Gives Back where all our attention is going to that," said Lythgoe.  "I do believe the [songwriting] competition is going to happen.  And if it is going to happen, I think that is a really good way of presenting the songs."
About The Author: Christopher Rocchio
Christopher Rocchio is an entertainment reporter for Reality TV World and has covered the reality TV genre for several years.