Tag Archives: Fox

American Idol – You Are Sooo Busted!

I have it! I’ve figured it out. It’s taken me nine seasons and many weeks of heavy thought, but I’ve suddenly realized how they fix American Idol. And now I feel just plain stupid for not hitting on the answer sooner. And ridiculous for wasting weeks of heavy thought on something so trivial. Still…

Some while ago, I posted my theory about why I believe the whole Idol elimination process is rigged to favor contestants that the producers think will sell the most albums once the season has wrapped up and all the mediocre performers have gone home and been forgotten about. Since then, consistently, week after week, that theory has held up. I made a prediction about which kid would leave, and sure enough, that kid left. It was flawless and dead-on.

Until this week.

This week Big Mike Lynche was sent packing. My pick had been Casey the Hair, who has minimal discernible talent, but great hair, a shaven chest, and tons of girlie appeal.

However, it was this apparent crack in my system that revealed the clue I’d been looking for. For a while I couldn’t work out how it was done. Now I’m more sure than ever that American Idol is rigged. Let me explain. Dim the lights. Here we go.

Ryan comes on at the start of the show and says how many fools wasted money this week on texting a vote, or repeat-dialing the show’s premium phone lines. This time it was a season high, 37 million.

Then we work down through the contestants one at a time over the course of an overpadded hour – an hour that could be reduced to four minutes; the rest is filler – whittling it away until we have our bottom three.

But then after that, there is no reference made during the show to who got the lowest number of votes, have you noticed? Something Seacrest fudges very handily by saying, “America voted and Big Mike is going home.” Or he’ll have two people standing there, as he did last night, and go, “After the nationwide vote, the person who’ll be in the final three is….Crystal Bowersox.”

See? No mention of Big Mike receiving the lowest number of votes. Why would there be? He didn’t, right?

In fact, now I come to think of it, it’s been like that on more than one occasion. “After the nationwide vote…” – not “…the person with the lowest number of votes…” So it looks like America gets to choose the bottom three, but if America acts like a dweeb and dumps the wrong person, the producers step in and pick the one they think should leave. I betcha I’m bang on the money with this.

My guess is that Casey the Hair tanked this week. But the tweens like him a lot and some of them may even buy his album, the one he records before he’s dropped by his label.

Of the four contestants left, Big Mike is the most generic, the least likely to endure as an artist and make money for the producers in coming years, and also the least likely to keep the girlie audience tuning in next week at a time when ratings are plummeting anyway. Bowersox and DeWyze are this season’s real talents. Big Mike is talented too, but squandered his advantage early on by not doing very much with anything and seeming kinda lame. That said, he was better all-round than Casey the Hair. No matter – Mike had to go.

And there you have it. Zero correlation between who got the lowest number of votes and who leaves. Furthermore, if the producers are challenged on this, they can throw up their hands in shock like a swooning coquette in a Victorian drama and claim, “But we never said Big Mike got the lowest number of votes, only that he was going home.”

Ta-daa. Am I right or am I right?

American Idol, you are sooo busted. Looks like it’s all about money. Selling albums, keeping sponsors, maintaining ratings. Ethics? Pah – not so much.

TV Swami – he feeling smug about this theory but extremely miffed at American Idol.

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How I almost appeared on The Tonight Show.

Casual Friday. It’s already hot and sticky in L.A., and I’m writing this naked. Those are the facts, people. Just accept them.

On Casual Fridays I like to bunk off work and hand the Swami over to someone who writes better than I do, or at the very least has something better to say. Today that honor falls to a guy whose name I will have to cut and paste, because I can neither pronounce it nor spell it: James Poniewozik.

LenoHe’s written a fantastically informative article for Time magazine about the future of television. And right now, he posits, the future seems to rest on what happens next week when Jay Leno launches his new show five nights a week on NBC, replacing their old, costly, lumbering, expensive dramas that nobody was watching.

Most people are expecting this experiment to be a flop. The bulk of variety shows do, after all, go into a rapid tailspin and disappear. In the 1950s, we used to enjoy watching a mixed bag of crap. Nowadays, less so. Unless there’s a talent show element to it at least, such as American Idol, in which case we’ll watch crap forever.

Witness the Osbournes variety special – The Osbournes Reloaded – which Fox was extremely cockahoop about at the time, and which was meant to be the first of a series of six. Unfortunately, the premier was so mind-numbingly dreadful that the rest of them were never shown. Here’s a taste.

leno picSo now we’re getting Jay Leno, trying to salvage his post-Tonight Show glory.

I once received a phone-call from The Tonight Show, inviting me to be on as a guest. Somebody had dropped out, it was late in the day, and I lived close to their Burbank Studios. This was when I used to do handwriting analysis. One of Leno’s producers had seen me on The View, apparently, and thought I’d be fun. But first they needed me to do a quick audition please. “Sure,” I said. “Easy.”

I didn’t drive in those days, so I traveled to Burbank by bus. And I bet not many of Jay Leno’s guests ever did that!

When I arrived, I was taken into a small room by the producer who had me analyze her handwriting. The girl in question was a mess. She had huge emotional problems, I recall, and somehow it didn’t seem right or responsible, even for an audition, to make light of them. So I gave her a straight reading, which was pretty damn accurate, just not especially entertaining.

Midway through, the room darkens. This taller, older woman walks to the door, stands there with her arms folded, listens for five seconds, then blurts out “No” in a stern voices and strides away.

That was it. I was promptly shunted out, given a handshake – “Sorry.” – and told to leave. Clearly, I wasn’t Tonight Show material.

To make matters far worse, when I got home I took off my trousers and found a massive brown skid-mark down the back. Seems I’d sat in something on the bus! One of the many hazards of using the L.A. public transit system. Most times you spot it before you sit down; but sometimes you’re preoccupied with an audition and possibly appearing on The Tonight Show and you forget to look. Oh god. Nothing could have been more embarrassing. I’d walked around their offices, meeting people, saying hi, doing quick handwriting analyses for anyone who asked…and all the while I looked like I’d shat my pants. I still cringe even now.

Anyway, who knows if I’ll be invited onto Leno’s new show. Maybe that old bag who said no to my gifts before has retired now.

Of course, I don’t do handwriting stuff any more, but that’s okay. I have other talents. Yesterday, for instance, a producer emailed me, asking if I’d like to do the voice of the lead character in a cartoon for the web. A fun character. He’s a talkshow host. “The guy has a gun for a nose,” the producer explained, “and explosives for a chin….it’s called Gun Nose.”

Of course it is. What else?

I said maybe. But I’m not hopeful for it. Gun Nose? Really? Why on earth would a producer dream up a character called Gun Nose, then automatically think, “You know who’d be good for this? That guy who does reports on NPR. I forget his name…the idiotic one.” Weird. And a hoax, I’m sure.

In the meantime, take a look at the Time article. All very interesting. And don’t forget to watch when Jay invites me on his new show later this year as a guest. “Next we have a very funny and original man. Author, handwriting analyst, NPR contributor, and the voice of Gun Nose….Cash Peters.”

I thank you.

www.cashpeters.com

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Never Abdul Moment.

Paula AbdulThe secret to talking is in knowing when to shut up, so I think I’ll shut up today on the subject of Fox executives kamikhazically allowing Paula Abdul to leave American Idol, and let Josef Adalian from The Wrap try to explain the details. 

Here are the bare bones and the maybes:

  • Everyone’s favorite incoherent, spaced-out talking doll has Tweeted that the party’s over, she won’t be back on Idol next year. “With sadness in my heart, I’ve decided not to return to IDOL. I’ll miss nurturing all the new talent, but most of all…being a part of a show that I helped from day1 become an international phenomenon.”
  • Maybe she’s had a better offer from talent shows on other networks: ABC’s So You Think You Can Dance, for instance. Or NBC’s America’s Got Talent (owned and produced by Simon Cowell).
  • Maybe it was a plot from the start. Bring in a fourth judge last season – another female, one who could speak in whole sentences without stopping every couple of words – just to remind Abdul that she’s not indispensable and to quit messing around. Then use that as a negotiation tool to gradually phase Abdul out when the time came.
  • Maybe it was Abdul’s new manager and Fox’s new TV chief flexing their muscles, mano a mano. In which case, what a disaster for both.
  • Maybe it’s one final act of brinksmanship, just another stage of the circus that is American TV contract negotiations, but one that will resolve itself at the very last split-second, and Abdul and Fox will make their peace, enabling her to return to the show.

Nobody knows as of today. But here’s the article:

“Where do we go from here?

Now that the No. 3 star on America’s No. 1 show has decided to up and quit, abdul publicitythe aftershocks will continue for days, weeks — maybe months. This story isn’t exactly the death of Michael Jackson, but let’s put it this way: The Obama administration has one more giant media circus to compete with as it tries to sell its health care plan.

First, an update on what went down.

Fox still isn’t talking beyond its statement, but people familiar with the situation insist that the network very much wanted Abdul to stay. These sources say the network and producers were willing to up Abdul’s salary by a huge 30 percent.

According to the Los Angeles Times, Abdul had been making between $2 million and $4 million per year. If you believe the high end of those estimates — because, really, $2 million sounds way low — then Abdul stood to pull down around $5.5 million per year. And since these deals always run for multiple seasons, Abdul just walked away from around $11 million to $17.5 million.

Yes, Ryan Seacrest is reportedly making almost that much each year of his new three-year pact. But his deal includes monies from multiple other projects he works on for 19 Entertainment. And he has a much more vital role to the show (even if he doesn’t have as passionate a fan base). 

That’s what we know right now. What’s next?

— The backlash. Fox can expect to get slammed by the mainstream media, which won’t understand how the network could let the Beloved Paula slip away. Wags will predict the show won’t be the same, that viewers will rebel and that the network is risking its most important franchise.

While multiple executives have been involved in the talks, Fox chief Tony Vinciquerra almost certainly took a lead role in guiding the negotiations, according to people close to the situation. It’s one of the first big deals to happen (or not happen) since Peter Chernin stepped down from News Corp.

Vinciquerra is the ultimate no-B.S. executive. Given the antics of Team Abdul recently (Twittered demands, press attacks from her manager), it’s not surprising things broke down.

But Vinciquerra also had to look at Fox’s overall bottom line. An extra $10 million for Abdul might not seem like much, except when…”

Read the full article HERE.

Read TMZ follow-up HERE.

www.cashpeters.com.  But why stop there? Follow him on Twitter @cashpeters.

See Cash’s movie HERE.

Read Cash’s latest book HERE. 

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Paula Abdul versus the skunks. Allegedly.

The fuss over Paula Abdul returning to American Idol (or not) brings back so many tragic memories for me, not to say some bitterness that I work at controlling but can’t, about what total weasels TV people are and the terrible way they behave towards one another. Even now, a full three years after my own TV show ended, it still makes my skin crawl.

Paula AbdulAccording to Abdul’s agent, she’s “hurt and angry” that Fox is playing hardball with her salary, indulging in powerplays, and refusing to negotiate. As a result she may not be back on the show next season. 

I couldn’t hear what else he said because of all the cheering. Most people, as far as I can tell, are probably with Fox on this one, they don’t want her back.

Currently, Paula receives $2.5m per year, which, given what she does and what a laughing stock she is, seems fair enough. But she wants more. How much more is the cause of all the debate. Estimates says it’s as high as $20m, and that’s why Fox is balking. Though more realistically, it’s probably a lot less – around the $5m mark. And that, if true, is also why Fox is balking.

Paula Abdul is not worth $5m a year on American Idol. Anyone with a TiVo who fastforwards through everything she says each week will tell you that.

simon cowellStill, Simon Cowell and Ryan Seacrest, both of whom are sitting pretty with substantial pay increases of their own and shouldn’t really care, are backing her and saying they are confident she’ll return for the ninth season. Auditions are already under way, a decision has to come soon. It’s all very touch and go.

However, this rather tacky public stand-0ff reminds me once again what a shark tank the TV world is. Riddled and rife with dishonesty, needless game-playing, and shenanigans, it’s a parallel universe to our own. A place where nobody can ever be straight about anything. Where everybody feels compelled to lie all the time, even – and especially – when they don’t need to. Where people stab you in the back, not because there’s any call for it, but because they’re presented with an opportunity to do so and can’t resist. And where you can never get a direct, up-front, word-of-honor answer to any question you ask, in case the reply – a simple, helpful, uncontaminated yes or no – somehow comes back to bite the various parties in the butt at some later date.

It’s a ghastly industry. Fun, but ghastly.

In television, you encounter some of the shiftiest, slimiest, slipperyest, most spineless individuals you’re ever likely to come across. Unless, that is, you venture into politics or the movie business, where I hear they’re wall to wall.

Worse, TV executives are geniuses of shameless deception. They wear sharp suits and have great dental work and hair and friendly personalities, and they’ve mastered the art of seeming genuine and honest and caring when in fact, behind the bared smile, lies a calculating shark mind turning constantly, figuring out all conceivable consequences of what’s about to be said and ensuring that it works to their own advantage, not yours.

An example of their shiftiness would be something I call “the Hollywood No.”

A Hollywood No happens when a spineless TV executive wants to say no to your request, inquiry, invitation, or proposal, but doesn’t have the balls. So instead he says nothing. There’s no call-back, no reply to your email, no letter in the post. Nothing. Just an ominous silence, from which you are meant to deduce, after a period of time lasting days or weeks, that your request, inquiry, invitation or proposal was turned down. In other words, the burden is placed on you to mentally refuse it yourself. The spineless TV executive had nothing to do with it, his  hands are clean.

It’s playing David Copperfield with the truth, and it sucks.

Oh, and if the two of you meet again at some point – you and him; executive and…er…executed, I guess you’d be – convention says that both sides must pretend that the Hollywood No never happened. Do not dwell in the past, goes the rule. Even if the past was about ten minutes ago. Move on, overlook any perceived slights, and don’t bring it up ever again. The transgressor must be allowed to get away with his crime. That’s just how it is.

It’s certainly considered very bad protocol to shake the executive’s hand the next time you see him and say, “Hey, you douche, how come you didn’t reply to my request, inquiry, invitation, or proposal?” Breaking the code of silence around the Hollywood No and reminding people what double-crossing skunks they are to their face can actually cost you friendships, jobs, and, in some cases, whole TV series. Trust me, I know.

It isn’t only the Paula Abdul crisis that brought this back to me, by the way. It was being emailed by that TV producer the other day (see HERE).

Our interaction was brief. A couple of lines each way, that’s all. But I was struck even then by what a slippery eel the guy seemed to be. I’d ask him a question, he’d reply within minutes with a statement that bore no relation to what I’d asked. I’d make a statement; in return he’d ask a question, again totally unrelated. Ducking and weaving, dodging and dancing. All so devious, so icky. I don’t know him at all, but I thought I could feel the gooey oiliness of his yellow character oozing from the monitor like parasitical Jell-O. There was nothing straightforward about our ‘conversation’, nothing direct or honest, nothing a real – ie. non-TV – person could get a grip on or hold him to. A typical TV executive, in other words. I have no doubt he’s very successful.

So, as much as I personally don’t want Paula Abdul back on American Idol,  I sympathize with her plight and must necessarily take her side. If Fox executives are anything like their scheming, lying counterparts all across the rest of the industry – and since it’s Fox after all, how can they not be? – then they’re playing this for sport, torturing her because they can, filling her days with uncertainty, false starts and Hollywood Nos, merely because…well,  they’re TV executives and that’s what they do.

I hope she wins.  Go Paula.

TV Swami – he say NO to Fox. And possibly “Go to hell”, but he not sure yet.

 www.cashpeters.com

Read Cash’s book, Naked in Dangerous PlacesHERE.

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