Seacrest: 'Idol' Could Be Due for Big Changes

Future of format, Cowell up in the air as season finale arrives

With the entire season of American Idol seemingly a drawn-out coronation for Adam Lambert, the competition itself hasn't provided too much suspense. But as Ryan Seacrest would say, this is American Idol, and television's biggest show is never without controversy. From the persistent format-tweaking to the future of Simon Cowell, there is always plenty to talk about.

And at the center of it all is Seacrest, the rock-solid host who has had to steer the ship through the new four-judge cast and the constant tweaking as the producers try to keep the show fresh.

So with the finale set for this week, Seacrest spoke to B&C's Marisa Guthrie about this season and what may lie ahead for Fox's ratings behemoth. Following is an edited transcript of that conversation.

Do you think the four-judge format works?

I think some nights it works better than others. But, you know, live television is imperfect. And that's sort of the beauty of American Idol; you don't know quite what to expect.

Has it become more difficult to keep the show moving along with four judges?

No, it could be six people. It's been fine for me.

As a TV producer yourself, what is the hardest part of keeping American Idol moving?

When we do the results show, you have to put on your producer's cap so you can convey the drama week to week and you don't telegraph to the contestants what's going to happen. Because it's a live show Wednesday night, it's important that they don't know what's going to happen so you get their reactions on live TV.

What will the show look like next year?

I don't know what they'll do next year. I don't know if they'll keep the tweaks that they've made this season or if they're going to implement new ones. But it's no secret that Simon is thinking about it being his last season. Everyone's deal is up next year except for Paula's.

So it could be a very different show?

[Laughing] It certainly could be, yes.

If Simon does leave, are you going to have some sort of final showdown?

Strangely, we actually have a lot in common. We spar on the air, but we're very good friends.

Of course, but you could stage one for the audience.

For the audience we should have a fight, a train-wreck fight? Hmmm.