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'American Idol' as 'Real World?'


New "American Idol" judges Steven Tyler, second from right, and Jennifer Lopez, second from left, appear with returning judge Randy Jackson and host Ryan Seacrest. (Sept. 22, 2010) Credit: Fox

  "American Idol" is reportedly considering an idea that would allow the top twelve finalists to live in a house somewhere in the Hollywood Hills, where they would then be allowed to tweet with fans.

  Let that sink in a moment.

  OK, sunk?

  Let us proceed. James Hibberd - the TV industry news blogger with Hollywood Reporter who's heading to EW - had this last  night.

 Good idea or bad? Almost certainly a little bit of both. Finalists live together already, so why not turn the cameras around a little more often to let fans see some the interaction, prep work, and development. As it used to stand, the only true behind the scenes footage - fairly common of course during the Hollywood rounds - was from the mentor sessions, which always felt highly polished, edited and phony anyway.

  Tweeting? Don't see any drawback there, but gimme a minute. I'm sure I'll think of something. Could contestants use Twitter to influence their fanbase, eg. votes? Well, duh. Then why not let 'em use Tumblr too, and establish "Idol" Facebook pages too, that would allow for even greater interaction? Social media is a wonderful thing, but does "Idol" really want to be on the forefront of an experiment that could have profound consequences for the show, fans, and the ultimate victor? 

  My answer: Hell yeah.

   "Idol" clearly wants to shake the show up, and its instincts are certainly sound - "Idol" had become so sclerotic that a shakeup beyond the judging panel was pretty much expected anyway. This all sounds OK to me. Give it a whirl - but in the process don't forget what this show is really about - finding a superstar along the lines of Carrie Underwood. It has forgotten this for (oh) the last five seasons or so.

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