Idol Phone Number Snafu and the Resulting Rippleby Sting7 -- 03/23/2005
Just when Mario Vazquez was fading into memory, American Idol faces another hiccup to overcome. While not quite in the category of hanging chads and over-eager exit polls, American Idol is in the midst of a voting controversy.
On Tuesday night’s broadcast, during the recap segment at the end of the show, part of the phone numbers shown to vote for the last three contestants – Mikalah Gordon, Anwar Robinson, and Jessica Sierra – were actually the same phone numbers shown for the first three contestants; Anthony Fedorov, Carrie Underwood, and Scott Savol. This left Gordon, Robinson, and Sierra in a voting disadvantage – despite the fact that the numbers shown during their performances, and immediately after the performance (as Ryan Seacrest was campaigning for them), were correct and despite the fact that the larger-font “IDOLS-“ phone number was correct (in other words, the 1-866-IDOLS-## phone number was correct, but the 1-866-43657-## part shown below it was incorrect).
To remedy the situation, Fox announced via press release that the votes received Tuesday night were being thrown out, basically giving itself a “mulligan.” Fox will rebroadcast the Tuesday night performances on Wednesday night, 9-10PM ET/PT, but do not expect a basic rerun of the show you already saw. The Fox press release states, "due to an error with the graphics shown on-screen, incorrect voting numbers were displayed during the performance recap at the end of [Tuesday's show] a live, one-hour show will air Wednesday, 9:00-10:00 p.m. to enable a re-vote. This new show will combine new live elements with encores of Tuesday's performances from the remaining 11 contestants." The results show will be seen Thursday night.
This snafu is bad news for Fox, but maybe worse news for its competitors. Opposing networks scramble to keep its ratings champions away from American Idol. Tonight, NBC’s West Wing, already taking on water, is going to go head to head with American Idol. What’s worse for NBC is Thursday night’s result show, which will likely thwart NBC’s risky plan to air the American-version of The Office between ratings-staples The Apprentice and ER.
At CBS, a rerun of CSI is expected to offer little competition, but ABC is offering a fresh episode of Alias, already facing a deficit of a rerun of Lost as a lead-in.
On Fox, a plan to air a new sitcom, Life on a Stick, has been postponed until Thursday night. Thursday night’s edition of Point Pleasant has been preempted until next week.
No comment has been issued from anyone directly associated with American Idol on this issue as yet. However, many television pundits say this mistake is actually a fortuitous one for American Idol and Fox. Both sides were admittedly a bit nervous about airing three programs in a week, as they had for the Top 24 portion of the program, but the ratings exceeded expectations by a country mile. Now, in a situation where they have to have another three-day airing, American Idol gets to further demonstrate its muscle to advertisers if it crushes the competition as it is expected to
Sting7 has been a respected published writer for many years, as a music editor, entertainment critic, columnist, and interviewer. He also has a curious love for pro-wrestling! You can email Stinger at email@example.com.
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