Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Michael Slezak: "This season still has a chance"

In today’s “Herald-Dispatch,” I gave you just a taste of what “Entertainment Weekly” writer Michael Slezak had to say about “American Idol.” But Slezak had a lot more to say about this season’s problems and what the show should do about the judges…

Here’s a taste of what he had to say…

On whether this season is the worst to be an “Idol” writer: “It’s weird because when you’re filled with outrage sometimes it’s easier to write. As a fan of the show it’s hard to write about. It’s like a problem child.”

On whether there’s any hope for this season: “This season still has a chance. There are a lot of ifs. Crystal Bowersox needs to make it to the finale. There’s a lot riding on her shoulders. We really need to see some of the secondary players step up and make it a competition…In season eight, there was an actual race. Kris, Adam, Danny and Allison all were really battling for it. That’s why it was nice to see Andrew Garcia step it up [last week]. He has an icecube’s chance in an oven of winning but you want to see him give a winning performance once in a while…You want [the show] to be worth giving three hours a week of your life to it.”

On what other contestants could step up: “I think Siobhan Magnus is an amazing talent
She was much more appealing as an outsider than as a frontrunner. Lee DeWyze is an interesting contestant. Maybe Aaron Kelly.”

On my “Idol” nemesis: “I reached a weird point of acceptance with Tim Urban [last] week. He’s never going to get better. He’s emotionally tone deaf. He’s hitting some notes, but he has no idea what the words are. I have to laugh. At least he’s not dull. You have to embrace the ridiculousness of it. At least he’s giving us something.”

On this year’s problems: “These contestants have no sense of ‘Idol’ history…There is a slight feeling of sameness. I’m befuddled that the show is a little bit complacent.”

On Ryan’s increased fighting with the judges: “I don’t know if he suddenly thinks the show is about him. He’s suffering from Kara DioGuardi syndrome. He’s more and more staged. Less real, less appealing. He’s trying to have a moment. It’s about the contestants singing. You can’t plan these things. Someone really connects with a song and does it well. [Ryan] needs to get back to what he’s good at [which is moving things along].
It’s a little trumped up. There’s a lack of watercooler factor this season so they’re creating this tension…There’s a lack of watercooler buzz so there’s a little bit of desperation and a little bit of frustration. A lot of longing for contestants no longer on show. What would’ve been.”

On what will happen next year without Simon: “They’ve done a very poor job of finding someone to anchor the judge’s panel. I don’t know why they didn’t get a second Simon two years ago. He brings an authority to his critiques. He is a TV star. You’ve got to have both qualities—TV star and authority. Simon is the voice of the people. The myth is that people don’t like him. But they actually nod their heads and say exactly.” Slezak pointed out “Project Runway” as a good judge’s panel with two opinionated and authoritative judges—Michael Kors and Nina Garcia.

On the judges panel: Slezak mentioned that former Executive Producer Nigel Lythgoe had given an interview where he said if he were still in charge he would “clear the entire panel for next year. It’s not a bad idea. Randy and Kara have done a better job this year. But their moment has passed.”

On my feelings of nostalgia about the show: “There is a nostalgia this year. Is there a chance [next year] it will be something really different and really amazing? Yes. It will definitely not be what it is now. You don’t want to see the show become a shadow of its former self.”

You can read Slezak’s latest “Idol” recap here.