“American Idol”Says No Thank You to Your Tunes

songwriters-will-be-silent-this-year-on-idol.jpg“American Idol” has scrapped its online songwriting contest for tune to be crooned in finale show
By Alex Ben Block for Hollywood Today Songwriters will be silent this year on idol

HOLLYWOOD, CA (rushprnews) 3/25/07 – An “American Idol” songwriting contest, which was to have run online simultaneously with the hit TV show, culminating in the on air winner singing the prize winning original song on the final show, has been put on indefinite hold.

Last August, a spokesperson for “American Idol” creator Simon Fuller told AP that, for the first time, there would be a songwriting competition open to both amateurs and professionals. Executive Producer Nigel Lythgoe told trade paper TV Week that America would get to choose the showcase “Idol” song for this year.

In the past established songwriters or well known music producers created two new songs which the two finalists sang at the end of the season. Several of the songs became hits. Last season Taylor Hicks had a hit with “Do I Make You Proud,” The biggest hit was Kelly Clarkson singing “A Moment Like This” at the end of the shows first season.

While the songwriting contest was never officially announced, details leaked out on various blogs. Submissions were to be uploaded to a web site, where they would be screened by the Fuller and other producers, who would choose about ten finalists.

Those would then be available on the Internet for the public to hear, after which listeners could vote online for their favorite. It was unclear if the show’s high profile judges would be involved, but Paula Abdul had praised the idea, saying that there was widespread dissatisfaction with some of the songs featured in past years. “I just want the poor contestant who wins to be happy to sing a song that radio’s going to play,” Abdul was quoted as saying. “It automatically goes to No. 1 because of sales … but radio has decided ‘ixnay’ on the finale song.”

There was never a plan to do anything with the songwriting aspect during the regular network television broadcasts outside of using the winning song at the end, according to a Fox spokesman. Now even that will not happen.

There had been discussion by the producers about doing two TV specials, however, to showcase the songs. That became part of the problem, as the amount of work involved piled up, and the prospect of sorting out the songs became too big a project.
Last week, the show’s third Executive Producer, Ken Warwick, told Televisionweek that they had to put the songwriting competition on hold because the producers have too much else on their plate right now.

In addition to producing the two weekly shows, with guest stars like Jennifer Lopez coming up, the hit musical series is also incorporating “Idol Gives Back,” a new charity component that kicks off on the April 24 show, and then continues on an extended version of the April 25 show.

For the charity event, the half dozen remaining “Idol” finalists are expected to sing inspirational songs, and there will be featured musical artists and celebrities including Gwen Stefani and Sacha Baron Cohen (aka Borat). For each vote cast that week, Coca-Cola, AT&T and other sponsors are expected to donate money to the Charity Projects Entertainment Fund, run by Richard Curtis, co-founder of the Red Nose Charity in the U.K. They help children and young adults at risk around the world.

Lythgoe and Warwick also have a number of other distractions. They are the first time producers of the upcoming Emmy Awards, which air Sept. 16 on Fox from L.A.

Warwick is also preparing the next season of “America’s Got Talent,” while Lythgoe is producer of the upcoming season of “So you think you can dance,” which premieres its third season on May 24. “So you think you can dance” is holding open auditions in Los Angeles Thursday (3/22) and then Atlanta (4/5). Auditions were held recently in New York and Chicago as well.

Warwick did not rule out reviving the songwriting contest notion in the future. However, several blogs were dubious it would come back, and one said that it was likely only songwriters already signed with the producers and their partners at Sony/BMG Records would be allowed to enter.

One thing is for sure. “American Idol” continues to be a powerhouse among all American TV shows, drawing about 30 million viewers per show, far above any other regularly scheduled series on any network. It also is one of the few shows that plays across all age groups. “American Idol” helped propel the Fox network to a surprise win in the key young adult demographic during the recent February sweeps, which set ad rates at local stations for the next three months.

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