Producer Questions Winning on ‘Idol’

Apr 4, 2007  •  Post A Comment

For many aspiring stars, just getting to Hollywood is half the battle. On “American Idol” though, that might be all it takes to give the money-hungry music industry a case of the munchies.

Take Chris Daughtry for instance. He didn’t win last year, but his fourth place finish has now sold over 2 million albums. It’s like executive producer Nigel Lythgoe said: “What do you mean by ‘winning?”

“Taylor won the competition, but he isn’t the one selling albums at the moment,” said Mr. Lythgoe, in this week’s exclusive Backlot Talk. “So what is the win at the end of the day?”

Mr. Lythgoe also said he’d be “shocked” if Sanjaya won this season, justifying his reaction in the fact that the emerging “entertainer” has already established a solid fan base thanks to his “dare to be different” attitude.

“I do understand why people vote for him; I really do,” said Mr. Lythgoe. “I think Sanjaya is going to win in the sense that he’s going to have a very interesting career. He’s certainly going to have food for the rest of his life, isn’t he?”

Haley Scarnato might find herself digging for a bone, earning a disapproving nod from the producer who said it wasn’t a fair assumption to neglect what he said is often “very constructive criticism” from Randy and Paula and only be interested in what Simon has to say about the performances. And what did that strategy earn her? Two dismissive reactions and a “nice legs” comment from the often insulting judge.

And Mr. Lythgoe “can’t blame them for that.”

Nor will he be blamed for having loose lips. The normally chatty producer became tight-lipped about Wednesday’s show, refusing to give even a hint as to who the guest performer might be. But he did let on that cross-cultural pop-diva Jennifer Lopez is next in line to mentor the “kids.” Don’t be fooled by the rocks that she’s got. She’s still Jenny from the block.

To listen to the full interview, go to TVWeek.com’s Backlot Talk for the audio podcast.