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'American Idol' changes may strip power from fans

Thousands of people attend the Los Angeles auditions

Thousands of people attend the Los Angeles auditions of "American Idol" at the Los Angeles Forum in Inglewood, Calif. Season 10 of "American Idol" airs on Fox. (Sept. 22, 2010) Credit: Fox

"American Idol" may be about to make a huge change in the way it picks its finalists -- and like most of its recent moves, this one's not going to make fans happy.

According to, executive producer Ken Warwick said the show's going to scrap the top 12 men-top 12 women semifinals setup where fans vote each week and instead have just one "sudden death" round, where fans vote for their faves from two groups of 10.

Wait -- really?! So instead of getting to hear the contestants sing over three weeks and make up our minds about them, we get one shot to decide which of the producer favorites to send through to the finals?

Think for a second, and be honest: Would you have voted through Kris Allen or Lee DeWyze or Jordin Sparks or David Cook or David Archuleta or Taylor Hicks or Clay Aiken if you only got to hear them sing live once?!

Each of these champs or near-champs got better every time he or she got to perform. None of them were talked about by producers at the start of the season as real contenders to win. They were all nervous during the semis -- as they should be, since "Idol's" about new talent, not boring, polished professionals.

Warwick's mindset is clear in talking about another major change,  that the show no longer cares about having an even number of men and women in the finals: "If I’ve got six fantastic boys and four average girls, I’m certainly not going to throw out a fantastic boy to put in another average girl, or vice versa."

I thought the whole point of "American Idol" was to let fans decide who's "fantastic" and who's "average," not to have Warwick decide who he thinks is great -- or not.

And if I'm Jennifer Lopez or Steven Tyler or Randy Jackson, I'm not thrilled to hear the producer saying he's the one deciding who makes the semis. I thought that was the job of the judges.

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