Programming

Idol: Get That Show on the Road

5/31/2010 12:01:00 AM Eastern

If you really need proof that the people behind American
Idol
are incredibly intelligent, I offer you what happened
at last week’s finale. Someone connected with the show was nice enough to offer myself and my
bride tickets at the last minute to the Wednesday
night Simon send-off.

And the tickets they gave us were in the last
row of the entire place, which was brilliant on
their part. You see, by putting an entire arena
of people between us and the performers,
Team Idol avoided promoting an ABC show
on Fox. Because had the missus been within
pouncing distance of young Lee DeWyze, we
surely would have seen the unfortunate, all-too-true meaning of the term Cougar Town.

But with the finale now come and gone,
the show—and the entire television business—
must turn its attention to the biggest
personnel decision in recent memory.

Enough conjecture will be written about Simon
Cowell’s replacement that I need not get
into it here. Plus, my vote has already been
cast in this space: Jane Lynch of Glee in character
as acid-tongued Sue Sylvester.

The show will be looking at everyone and
everything, as evidenced first by Kevin Reilly’s
upfront (pun fully intended) acknowledgment
that TV’s Death Star is showing some
age. I also saw a May 21 viewer poll Fox sent out via the Internet that literally asked about
everything from the show’s talent to the format.
Granted, these polls are not remotely
newsworthy, and Fox
and every network have
done them forever. But
it’s a great reminder that
for Idol, everything is in
play.

I have already weighed
in with thoughts like
going back to three
judges and finding some
way to keep Cowell in
the show. And Ellen
DeGeneres probably
would be smart to simply
walk away, as this show
is not the best use of her
significant talents.

But in recent weeks, an idea popped into
my head, and then cemented at the finale.
Idol needs to use a problem-solving method
made famous by a group of great academic
minds at prestigious Faber College in 1962:
It needs a road trip.

American Idol should be filmed in a different
city every week. Go right to the wildly
successful WWE Monday Night Raw playbook,
tour the show every week, and feed
off the incredible live-event energy of a passionate
fan base that will turn out in droves
when the circus comes to town.

Yes, it will add significant
cost and significant
headaches,
from where to do Ryan
Seacrest’s radio show on
tape days to just building
and striking the set
every week. And much
like this year’s Dancing
With the Stars rebound
,
Idol could fi nd its groove
again pretty easily with
the right casting, both in
the judges’ chairs and on
the stage. But the show
also needs an energy infusion
that just doesn’t
come on a Los Angeles stage anymore. Two
words, boys: Road trip.

E-mail comments to
bgrossman@nbmedia.com and follow him
on Twitter: @BCBenGrossman

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