American Idol Interview with Exec. Producer Nigel Lythgoe

     January 15, 2006

Posted by Frosty

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Unless you have been living under a cave recently you are aware that the new season of American Idol is starting back up Tuesday night on FOX. As I have written about in the past, I love the first few weeks of this show, as it is comedy gold. Watching these wannabe contestants who truly believe they are meant for fame and fortune perform, well it just warms my soul as I laugh to the point of tears.

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This year the rumor is the cameras are going to capture the infighting between the judges and catfights between the contestants, trying to show you what really goes on behind the scenes. While this all might sound interesting, I am sure a lot of what we will see is contrived by the producers to shake up the show. Either way I am done once they pick the actual contestants, watching the real performers is not my cup of tea as I would rather be watching Arrested Development….

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For all those American Idol fanatics, below is a transcript between Nigel Lythgoe (Exec. Producer) and a group of reporters about this upcoming season of Idol. Once again thank you to FOX for providing me with this transcript.

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AMERICAN IDOL Conference Call with Nigel Lythgoe, Executive Producer;;;;

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B. Cantor;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;; The question I have is last year seemed really broad.; I mean, like songs from your birth year and top 40 from any chart, allowed every contestant to find his or her comfort zone.; Really there was no sense of versatility displayed, because you could always find a country song, you could always find a rock song.; Will we get a better theme variety this year, more like in the past seasons?

N. Lythgoe;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;; That’s funny, Brian.; We never seem to please anybody with this.; You try to please everybody and you end up pleasing nobody.; This last season we felt as though we, and rightly so, had been criticized that we stayed away from modern songs and stayed away from the charts at this point in time.

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;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;; We recently did that in seasons past because we don’t particularly think there are any great songs out there at the moment.; They come out in sort of dribs and drabs.; The chart is predominated by hip-hop, as is the radio, which isn’t necessarily great for American Idol singers.; But we dipped our feet in the water last year, and I think successfully, with doing the top 40 of this week mixed along with the sound of Philadelphia.

;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;; We always push them.; You’ve got to remember that once we dip back into the sixties and this sort of thing, the kids have never heard of these songs.; So we constantly try and update; it and do different things.; But the fact is, there is only a certain amount of genres out there and if you do something like film music, then they have the choice of doing film musicals or just music that has appeared in films.; So we always try to give them a huge variation.

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B. Cantor;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;; … like John Stevens would have had the challenge of the Gloria Estefan week, where it was such a clash for the style that it was sort of interesting to see how they would adapt to it, and I’m sure…

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N. Lythgoe;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;; Yes, I don’t disagree with that at all, Brian, I must say.; And yes, we’re going down the route of songwriters again and genres.; But we always try and give them a huge field to play with.; You know if you’re great songwriter like an Elton John, or a Carol King, or somebody like that, you have done different styles of music yourself.; If we could ever get the Beatles released, they have got the most stupid sort of songs like, “When I’m 64,” to some of the best ballads ever written.; So, if you’re a good songwriter, you have done a huge range of different styles of music anyway.

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B. Cantor;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;; Okay, and one of the criticisms as well last year is that in the top 24 some of the contestants that were in that had really never been seen before in the auditions, where you would frequently…

N. Lythgoe;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;; That happens every year.

B. Cantor;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;; So that will be the same this year?

N. Lythgoe;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;; Yes, we only have a certain number of hours.; Generally, we like to show you the people that don’t continue through because that is their story for that show.; Most of the good stories, we’re losing people.; So, it doesn’t necessarily follow these stories that you see in earlier shows are going to continue through the series.; And we hope that in changing the format, which we did last year, you’re getting to see these people before they hit the top 12.; You have got them for at least three or four weeks before there is a top 12 don’t forget, which has never before last year.

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M. Wilkosky;;;;;;;;;;;;;;; I sense song choices are the utmost importance.; Does anyone help the finalists in their se;le;ctions, and is there a way to change a song that just isn’t working even with rehearsal?

N. Lythgoe;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;; Yes and yes.; We have obviously got Byrd, and last year we had another vocal coach.; We take the kids through songs, our music clearance people play them. ;On the Sunday of the previous week, we play them the music of whatever genre we’re dealing with.; We give them CDs of that, they listen to them and decide what they like.; It’s never worked like this, it has worked on a couple of times where two people wanted to sing the same song.; But if everybody wanted to sing the same song, they could.; We try and help them as much as possible, right up until the last minute.; If they have been working on it on a Thursday and a Friday, and we go to band call on a Saturday morning, we’ll change it right up to that Friday night.

M. Wilkosky;;;;;;;;;;;;;;; A difficult question, people are obviously trying to be as awful as possible in the auditions so they can be part of the aired episodes—some of the are.; Do you feel the show is being exploited by these obviously bad singers?

N. Lythgoe;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;; Well, in truth, with the bad singers, it depends where you come from.; I love the deluded.; I don’t love the university and the graduate that comes along, makes himself look stupid because he is on a bet.; We record everybody, so we’ve got it, and we’ll normally drop that into a montage of stupidity, but not feature them as a soloist.; It’s the William Huangs that I love.; It’s the ones that believe you can be successful—and it’s everybody’s dream—you can be successful in this country by working hard.; And he forgets that you need a modicum of talent as well, which he didn’t have.; But he believes like so many that come along to the auditions that if we invest our time as professionals in them, we can make them a star.

Carrie;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;; Let’s talk about the Grammy’s.; Obviously, we have got two Idol Alums nominated.; Do you think that this means Idols finally getting some respect in the music biz?

N. Lythgoe;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;; Well, listen, I think when you have somebody like a Kelly Clarkson out there that is doing so well, and not just in this country now, but globally, you can’t ignore her.; And you can’t ignore her music.; She came on board as a singer; she is now writing good songs.; So, yes, I think talent will always come through.; Everybody said that Clay was going to be next Barry Manilow.

Carrie;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;; Some people have said that they thought Kelly should have been nominated for a song or a record of the year, instead of in, I think she is in Best Female Pop Vocal Album and then song or performance.; Do you think that should have gotten more nominations than she did in the bigger categories, or are you guys satisfied?

N. Lythgoe;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;; Listen, I’m really satisfied that here is a lady that came through American Idol and now is doing so well on radio and around the world.; What else can we ask for?; In truth, I’m here to make the best television show that I can, and that is what my job is, along with my entire production team.; What comes out of this at the end of the day, we, like everybody else, feels very proud of.; So even the ones that are not doing as well as Kelly, we’re still very proud of.

;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;; I mean, look at Carrie Underwood.; That is a double platinum album in six weeks.; That is incredible.; So awards and award shows, don’t forget we’re up for an Emmy every year and every year we sit there and every year Amazing Race wins.; And the trouble is, it has got the same vowel to start with, and the minute they go, “And the winner is ‘A’…”, I think it’s going to be American Idol, I stand up and everyone yanks me back down because they just said Amazing Race.

Carrie;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;; Do you think that might happen with Kelly at the Grammy’s?; She’s nominated but they won’t give it to her?

N. Lythgoe;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;; I think they are going to vote for whom they think is the best person.; That is what generally what happens, isn’t it?

Carrie;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;; No.

N. Lythgoe;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;; I’m always told there is a lot of politics in these things.; Hey, where isn’t there politics?

M. Calertho;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;; I have to ask a selfish question.; Here in Birmingham, I’m hearing lots of rumors that we have another local singer, the next Beau, the next Ruben, who is a very strong contender for the top 48 or even the top 24. Can you confirm today?

N. Lythgoe;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;; I can’t.; I mean, I can, but I won’t, in truth, because I want people to look on the shows and make their decisions.; One of the great fun things for me as a viewer of this show is when somebody walks in that room, I want to be a judge too, and I want to be able to go, “Oh, that’s horrible, I bet they don’t like her, or I bet they don’t like him, or that’s a great voice, what are they going to say about?”; So to hear that somebody is going to do well or anything else, it just takes away some of the pleasure for me, so I’m not going to talk about individuals in that way.; Sorry, Mary.

M. Calertho;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;; That is okay.; You can’t be a spoiler.; So instead of being a spoiler, do you have any theories on maybe why Birmingham area contestants or Alabama people make it so far in the show?

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N. Lythgoe;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;; I don’t.; It’s that whole area as well, and it’s Northern Carolina, and that whole area has always been wonderful to us.; Atlanta has always been wonderful to us.; Obviously Birmingham, Alabama has been terrific.; And I don’t know what it’s.; It may be church.; It may be because they learn so much about singing in church.; But it has been wonderful.; I can’t knock at all.; And yet, places like New York where we expect some great talent, we get a lot of fakers.; Great characters, and we get some great singers, don’t get me wrong.; But in comparison to your area, we don’t really do well.

M. Calertho;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;; Do you think viewers are interested in seeing singers say, over age 30?; This is my way asking will Idol ever have a Senior division?

N. Lythgoe;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;; We tried the Junior division.; Yes, maybe, maybe.; I’m certainly not going to rule out anything in the future.; But at this moment in time, you know, we have moved it to 28.; I don’t know why we didn’t go to 30, but we went to 28.; The dance program that I’m involved in, we moved that to 30.; This possibly in the future could go to 30, but after that, you have got to say who is buying the records, who is looking at the music of this age, and following that through.; I’m not sure that you want to begin at a later age than 30.; It happens, don’t get me wrong, but Idol at the moment is about trying to make young people’s dreams come true.; I don’t want anybody that is too locked in to their ways.; They have got to be fresh and open to ideas.

S. Daley;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;; I recently did a story on Idol and I received 80 e-mails about it; these really passionate, long e-mails.; One woman compared Clay Aikens to Abraham Lincoln.; I wanted to ask you, just in general, not so much for one particular performer, but Idol has become this pop culture phenomenon.; How do you explain the rabid fanaticism that people have for this show?; I mean, what is it?; You guys had your best year ever in year four last year, what is it really that makes people—they can’t look away, and they have to go on the Internet and chat, and they have to talk about it.; What do you think it’s?; What does it boil down to?

N. Lythgoe;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;; Well, I think the biggest thing is, I think there is a certain amount of honesty about Idol that Simon Cowell brings, and I certainly don’t want to dismiss Simon from this entire phenomenon.; At the same time, it’s the investment that people put in to other human beings.

S. Daley;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;; You’re talking about the viewer putting in an investment?

N. Lythgoe;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;; Yes.; And the emotional investment too.; I mean, I have just been through this year’s stories and the people that are involved now in this season, and a lot of it’s heart wrenching.; And if you remember last season the lady who pawned—stupidly, in my opinion—pawned her wedding rings to get there.; I mean, these are true stories that people do.; And then if they have got talent, you’re putting yourself in their position, and you’re willing them to get through, and willing them to win.; And because we get to vote as the viewing public, we have a say in that.; I mean, what else could you ask for from a television show, than to emotionally grab you?

;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;; I think every successful television show I have ever known has either made me angry, made me happy, made me laugh, and that silly little box sitting in the corner of my room that I sit there and watch, has actually affected my life.; And that is what Idol does.

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L. Martin;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;; No, no.; You already answered that, and thank you for doing that.; You mentioned Simon, so I wanted to ask you a question about the judging.

;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;; All three of them have got such distinct personalities, and I think that all three are so integral to the success of the show, so when Simon was going through his recent negotiations, was there any concern about the future of the show?

N. Lythgoe;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;; This is a tough question, I have got to be honest, Logan.; What I would say to you is, without question, I believe Simon Cowell is extremely important to the success of this show here in America.; However, Idol is successful all over the world without Simon.; And that is the only balance that I can give to answering you with that, because I certainly don’t want to lose him.; I think the three of them together create a wonderful chemistry or have a wonderful chemistry.; Individualize them, and we always are going to lose out.

;L. Martin;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;; Sure, sure.; And you mentioned a few minutes about how you sometimes you like to be a judge in the sense of, “Oh, I wonder what they’ll think about this one?”

N. Lythgoe;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;; Yes, as a viewer.;

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L. Martin;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;; Sure.; When they are in the audition process, have you ever found yourself wondering what the judges were thinking when they cut one person or passed one person…

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N. Lythgoe;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;; Oh, yes, yes, yes.; We always talk about it and say, “Why would you do that?; Why did you say that?”

L. Martin;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;; So you do get the chance to let them know how you feel about cutting ‘A’ or….

N. Lythgoe;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;; Like everybody else, it’s just with Ken Warwick, I’m the executive producer, so they’ve got to listen to me.; But I get, what we say England, I get my knickers in a twist.; But that is what the show is all about, and unless I do, we’re not doing a good job.

L. Martin;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;; Sure, and finally, I just wanted to ask you, in an interview a few weeks ago, Randy was asked who his favorite top 12 people of all time were, and he mentioned Kelly and Fantasia.; I’m wondering who your favorites have been?

N. Lythgoe;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;; Well, it’s easy to mention Fantasia and Kelly, they were winners.; I think you would have to be Tamara Gray from season one in there for me.; I think you would have to put Jennifer Hudson in there for me.; Guys wise, it’s Beau for sure.; I’ve always been a little let down by guys.; I have never really been grabbed, and thought, wow, we have found the next whoever.;

;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;; But this season, our boys are very strong.; I don’t think they’re the best lookers, but their talent is extremely strong.; And the girls, wow, we’ve got some really good talent there too, so it’s going to be a very strong season I think.

E. Anderson;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;; Oh, excuse me, yes, it was Simon, not Randy.; I was wondering about any this year that you can talk about?; Any standouts?

N. Lythgoe;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;; I would not, if you can forgive me Eric.; What frightens me and I said to Simon too, “Maybe that will bolster to other people and they are going to fight it.”; I don’t actually like making predictions for who America is going to vote for this early on.; The great thing about American Idol for me, not only as a viewer but also as a producer, is watching people grow.

;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;; The best person for me last year, and to go back to the other question, was Vonzell, who I thought grew last season enormously, from this little shy girl at the beginning who suddenly found herself in the top ten, and every week she got better and better and better.; And that is what I like about American Idol.; I watch people grow.; It’s a journey.; It isn’t walking into this competition and you’re going to win it.

;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;; So when Simon says things like that I you know, I say, “Oh, you should not really say that yet, it’s too early. Let’s see how people get on.; You’ve made your mind up about something, you might have to backtrack.”; And Simon is very good.; He will apologize to people.; He certainly did in England with the original Idol winner, a guy called Will Young, who he didn’t get at all.; Just didn’t get him in the early stages, and then as it wore on he said, “I’m so sorry, I get you now.; You are brilliant.”; And actually climbed off his perch, if you like, and apologized, as he did here.; So he is good at that, but I don’t like him sort of saying this person is great.; I really don’t.

E. Anderson;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;; A couple of weeks ago, Randy Jackson on an interview alluded to some onset sparring between him and Simon and Paula.; I was just wondering if there is anything as dramatic as last year when Paula…

N. Lythgoe;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;; There is.; There is, and we did something that we have never done before, which is when the person leaves the room, we normally carry on and just get on and pull someone else in.; We just left the cameras rolling on the judges.; And there are some very interesting things that happened.; Very, very, very interesting.; I’m thinking I don’t want to say too much, but at one point, Simon storms out of the room and just can’t take Randy and Paula any more, and leaves the audition.

AJ Hammer;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;; Was there anything formatically speaking that didn’t work for you last season that we’re not going to see this season?

N. Lythgoe;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;; No.; I think last season was the best way that we have ever done the format.; A lot of people didn’t realize the major change that went on, because we only ever talk about tweaks.; But there was a major change that went on, which was in those middle stages.; Normally, you would get eight or ten people and you would vote.; Two would go through that you would see four or five weeks later, and either six or eight people would be cut and you would never see them again.

;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;; That was a bad investment as far as we were concerned, so we changed it around that we produced 12 boys, as you know and 12 girls, and they you whittled them down to create six boys and six girls.; So you saw them over that period of time, so you constantly got to know them.; And then we put them together as our top 12 at the end of it.; That was a major change in the format, and hopefully got people invested emotionally in those characters quite early on.

AJ Hammer;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;; And did you make any changes in terms of the contracts that you put out to the potential contestants, so you don’t get anymore dropouts like happened with Mario Vasquez last year?

N. Lythgoe;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;; Well, that would be like handcuffing them to the production.; No, if somebody is unhappy, they must be allowed to leave.; We’re not going to put people through that.; We put them through enough with Simon Cowell, for god’s sake.

L. Streeter;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;; Last year I guess there was some criticism, and I personally kind of thought so, that there was some meanness, and obviously, good television is good television…

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N. Lythgoe;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;; Meanness?

L. Streeter;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;; Meanness in terms of, “You’ll find out if you’re going to win or if you’re going to be going on after the next commercial, and everyone on this couch safe.”; “Oh, we didn’t say you were safe, everyone on that couch is safe.”; That kind of thing.; And obviously it makes for good television.; Do you ever think, maybe that’s just a little mean?

N. Lythgoe;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;; No, I think it’s exceptionally mean.; And that catch phrase of “after the break” has been going on for two seasons now. ;I think one of the meanest things that we did, and I put my hand up, I’m to blame for it, was a previous season on season three where we said, “You three are on that side of the stage, you three are on that side of the stage.; George Huff, you’re through.; You are secure this week.; You are back here.; America voted and you’re in, go and join the top three.”; And he wandered over to the three divas and we said, “No, George, we said you’re through.; The top three are the other three.”

;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;; I knew that he would believe that probably our best three singers, LaToya London, Fantasia, and Jennifer Hudson, were in our bottom three that week.; But I knew he would believe that they were the top three.; So yes, we played a trick, we made television.; As I say, my job is to make television.; It’s other people’s job to choose who the American Idol is, and we just present each week.

;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;; We try and find some different way to make it interesting for our viewers.; I think it gets very boring with just saying, “Okay, you’re in, you’re in, and you’re in.”; Sometimes, I think we stretch it out too much when we have got an hour to tell one person that you’re safe.; It’s a bit tough.

L. Streeter;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;; So, even though it’s mean you stand by that because it makes for television?

N. Lythgoe;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;; Sure.; I’m not making anybody eat bugs.; I’m not making anybody stand on their head in the middle of a jungle, and it’s only mean in a good-hearted way.; And to the point that now the contestants say, “After the break with Ryan.”; They know we go to commercial breaks, they know we’re stretching it out, and that is the television show.

J. Pierson:;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;; I was just wondering, how do you think these contestants this time around stack up, as far as talent-wise?; Is it difficult to find great talent time and time again?

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N. Lythgoe;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;; The one great thing I think about—there are lots of great things about this wonderful country—but for us, we find that all of a sudden we come across people and you think, why hasn’t a record company found you?; Where have you been all of these years?; I mean, they are 23, 24, sometimes 27, 28, and they are sensational.; And you wonder, what have you been doing?; Why haven’t anyone found you?; Thank goodness for this show, because seem to be doing the record company’s jobs.

;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;; And that is remarkable that we can do that in our fifth season.; And I’m sure it will continue, because there are just so many people here.; Each year we’re being replenished with the ones that have waited for the last four years to become 16.; When they were 12 years of age and went, “I want to be on that program.”; And so, we’re being replenished in that way.

;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;; I think this season, I think it’s fair to say, we have got some of the best voices I have heard.

J. Pierson;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;; Now what do Simon, Randy, and Paula think of the talent this time around?; Have you heard comments from them?

N. Lythgoe;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;; Everyone is extremely happy, but more importantly, I’m happy with them this time around.; All three of them are firing on all cylinders, and they’ve all have got comments this season, and they’ve all got really good things to say.; It isn’t just a question going dog, dog, dog and touchdown, touchdown, touchdown. They have all got really important things to say.; And I don’t know what was pivotal—oh no, well I do.; I think last year’s success was pivotal for them too.; You don’t go into your fourth season and get these sort of figures, it’s unheard of.; And to do that, it’s recharged their batteries, is all I can think, because they were so good, and editing the show has been a pleasure this year.

E. Crawford;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;; I was wondering, do you have any knowledge yet of who the celebrity judges are or celebrity … may be?

N. Lythgoe;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;; Erin, I haven’t done celebrity judges this year so far, and I’m not sure we’re going to.; The problem with a celebrity judge is that is the fourth person who has to speak.; Sometimes because of the situation they are in, they can’t be anything but “nice.”; So they are never going to be truthful or honest.; “You sang my song brilliantly.”; Okay, fine, but what is your critique?; Well, that’s it.; So it’s a bit of a waste of time, apart from seeing them.; So it would be great if we have got a great songwriter, it would be great to see them in the audience, giving them a thumbs up or whatever.; But I don’t necessarily want them to say, “You were terrific,” after every kid sang one of their songs.

E. Crawford;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;; What about Gene Simmons last year?; He was fantastic.

N. Lythgoe;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;; Gene Simmons was edited.; To put him on a live show and have him talk, we may have been bored stiff.; It’s not about Gene Simmons, it’s about the kids on stage.; And it’s the same with judges, we speed them through.; On a live show, we have got a certain amount of time and they have got to say something in that amount of time.; And that’s really difficulty a lot of the time to find something succinct to say.; Which when you start introducing guests, they will find it difficult to say something succinct in the 30 seconds that they might have.

Mr. Porter;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;; We have done interviews with Randy and Paula in the past couple of months, and seen the promos for the show.; The judges seem to be unanimous in declaring that this is going to be the best season of American Idol ever, which I think makes for the best fifth season ever in a row.

N. Lythgoe;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;; This is probably going to be the worst season coming up.; I wouldn’t bother watching it.; What do you want them to say?; But the funny thing is, it is.; And you know when we said that last year, this is really the strongest season we have had, I think last year’s season, I wasn’t embarrassed by any of our top 12.; And in previous seasons I have been.; Is that fair to say? Okay.; Well, this season, I’m happier with the top 24 than I have been in other seasons.

Mr. Porter;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;; And is there a difference between having 12 or 24 talented singers and making good television with those people?

N. Lythgoe;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;; Well that’s up to me then, isn’t it?; That’s up to my team.; We’ve got to then continue to make the good television.; But it’s far better to have the raw materials to start with and feel proud of those people, and think now, this is going to create rifts in people.; You know, the best rift we ever had with the public was Clay and Rueben.; You would cut straight down the middle there, with spaghetti over meatball, and you went with one or the other.; And I loved that for a television show.

Mr. Porter;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;; I think some of that probably too depends on how people end up voting and whether there is…

N. Lythgoe;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;; That is what this show is all about at the end of the day, is that investment.; If you don’t give a damn, you’re not going to continually watch the show, I’m afraid.; But Carrie and Beau split the audience again.; I would not have taken a bet on who was going to win that night.

R. Muchianti;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;; Quickly, we expect to see Carrie and Beau this season, but why would we probably not, I’m just assuming, see Clay or Kelly perform, or Ruben?

N. Lythgoe;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;; Well, at this moment in time, I’m about to speak to Kelly’s management.; There are a few problems with music clearance, which I’m sure can be resolved, but it appears that Kelly isn’t clearing some of her music for American Idol, which seems very strange. So I’ll be talking to the management today.; I’m sure she is unaware of that, but we’re just having discussions at the moment.; So sometimes we say the door is open to you, but they don’t necessarily want to come back.; I’m not sure where you’re coming from with that question, it may be that you’re doing a management question there.; But no, that doesn’t come into it.; A television show is a television show.; You know very well that we did a Christmas special with Kelly.

R. Muchianti;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;; Right.; It’s just it would be fun to see them come back–

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N. Lythgoe;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;; Yes.; If there is a good reason for it, if they’ve got a record coming out, or something that we could help with, terrific.; Carrie certainly would love to come back.; Fantasia, if she has got a record out, terrific.; Jennifer Hudson, who is starring in Dream Girls, great to see her.; Always happy, if we have the time to remind ourselves and to push their careers again as well.

R. Muchianti;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;; Right.; Just one more quick question.; It seems like as a viewer, as far as who gets in front of Paula, Randy, and Simon, you’re either really good or you’re really bad.; So the middle of the road, average singers, they don’t get through but the bad ones do?

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