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Category: American Idol

Is 'American Idol' committing Emmy suicide?

Photo: Scotty McCreery learns that he is the next American Idol during last season's grand finale. Credit: Michael Becker / Fox
It's an old saying: The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. If that's true, then the Emmy diagnosis for "American Idol" is insanely clear. Despite being TV's top-rated reality show -- indeed, TV's highest-rated program, period -- it is about to lose the Emmy Award for best reality-competition show for a ninth time. And no wonder: "Idol" show runners keep submitting the same sample episode to judges every year -- the season finale -- and it keeps losing. This year, they've done it again.

It's easy to understand why producers believe it might be a winner. The finale seems the most important episode of the year because it is the culmination of the entire season. It crowns a new champion singer who could potentially graduate to multi-platinum record sales and Grammy wins like previous champs Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood -- or drift into obscurity like Ruben Studdard and Taylor Hicks. The two-hour broadcast is often studded with singing legends performing duets with the contestants they inspired, and this year's season-ender featured superstars Beyoncé and Lady Gaga performing their own hits. And it all ends with a confetti-strewn coronation, tears and triumph. Emmy voters should be dazzled by the pomp and pageantry, right?

No. There's a problem: There are no actual competition elements in the episode, and competing in the reality-competition category with such an episode is like -- well, like auditioning for "American Idol" with a dance routine. The episode amounts to a live concert capped with the opening of an envelope (imagine the Grammy telecast, except with only one category), a process that itself is deflated of suspense because, by the time Emmy voters are watching it, the winner of "American Idol" is already yesterday's news. And even if Lady Gaga brings the house down, that has more to do with promoting her single than with the search for the next singing superstar.

If the strategy had a history of working, repeating the formula would be understandable, but Emmy judges have demonstrated eight years in a row that it's not what they're looking for. For seven years in a row they honored "The Amazing Race," every episode of which is a fast-paced, breakneck contest showcasing exotic locales, top-level production values and lively contestant personalities. This year, they submitted "You Don't Get Paid Unless You Win," in which contestants navigate India. A pair of goth teammates is so overwhelmed during a challenge that one of them jumps out of a boat into the Ganges river.

Last year the "Amazing" winning streak ended when voters honored Bravo's "Top Chef," which this year submitted "Give Me Your Huddled Masses," in which contestants must make dishes based on their cultural heritages. The episode includes heartfelt reunions with family members and the revelation that two of the contestants are distant cousins. "Project Runway" also features a powerful revelation. In its submitted episode, "There's a Pattern Here," contestants design fabrics based on their life stories, and in the process one of them reveals that he is HIV-positive.

What distinguishes these programs is their emphasis on competition. This year, many "Idol" fans think the show could have won with just such an episode: specifically, the emotional show in which the judges used their veto power to save Casey Abrams from elimination. Would that have been the key to victory for "American Idol"? Ryan Seacrest entered that segment in the separate race for best reality host. Let's see what happens.


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-- Tom O'Neil

Photo: Scotty McCreery learns that he is the next American Idol during last season's grand finale. Credit: Michael Becker / Fox

Poll: What will win best reality-competition show at the Emmys?

Project runway

Last year, the Emmy contest for outstanding reality-competition program proved to be the most dramatic as "Top Chef" zoomed past "The Amazing Race," which had won the category the previous seven years in a row. Now Emmy watchers wonder: Can "The Amazing Race" rally to reclaim the prize? Can "Top Chef" do it again? Or is there another usurper in the mix?

An examination of the episodes submitted by nominees to Emmy judges (every contender submits one sample) reveals that three programs are clearly out of it: "American Idol," "Dancing With the Stars" and "So You Think You Can Dance."

"Stars" submitted episode No. 1204, which is filled with charming moments as Mark Ballas and Chelsea Kane dance a Viennese waltz and Kirstie Alley catches up with a lost shoe, but it's not strong enough to win.

Both "American Idol" and "So You Think You Can Dance" blundered by submitting their season finales, which are rather ho-hum viewing experiences now that we know who prevailed. A much better selection for "Idol" would've been the one in which Casey Abrams gets saved from elimination. Shrewdly, Ryan Seacrest submitted that one in the host category, but producer Nigel Lythgoe will continue to lose as long as he stubbornly sticks by entering season finales in the program race.

"The Amazing Race" has an outside shot to win. Producers submitted a lively episode: No. 1807 ("You Don't Get Paid Unless You Win") in which the teams endure catastrophes and humiliations (they must make fuel patties out of water buffalo manure) while trotting around Varanasi, India. It's entertaining and energetic, but it doesn't have what the other two nominees do in spades: heart.

This Emmy matchup is between "Top Chef" and "Project Runway." "Project Runway" could be this year's category spoiler thanks to the emotional tug of "There's a Pattern Here," which asks contestants to design fabric based upon meaningful moments in their lives. At the end of the segment, Mondo Guerra wows the judges when he submits a pattern that spills a secret he's previously kept fiercely hidden: He's HIV positive.

While "Project Runway" has the single most powerful scene, "Top Chef" serves up 90 minutes of continuous emotional fare as contestants visit Ellis Island, bond with family members and learn surprises about their ancestral histories in "Give Me Your Huddled Masses." A jaw-dropping moment occurs when it's revealed that two of the contestants are related to each other.


Blame cranky Dr. House because Hugh Laurie hasn't won an Emmy?

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Emmys: Will 'Top Chef' win again for reality competition show?

— Tom O'Neil

Photo: Mondo Guerra on "Project Runway." Credit: Lifetime,

Emmys: Will 'Top Chef' win again for reality competition show?

"Top Chef" at the Emmys in 2010

The battle for reality competition show yielded the most dramatic Emmy victory of last year when "Top Chef" zoomed past "The Amazing Race," which had won seven years in a row. What will happen next? If our forum posters are correct, it's a close fight among "Top Chef," "The Amazing Race" and "Project Runway," which is overdue to win. Below are descriptions of the sample episodes submitted to judges. At bottom: comments from our forums.

Continue reading »

Emmys: 'Top Chef' reheats nominations for reality-competition award

Emmy 2010 champion 'Top Chef'
"The Amazing Race," "American Idol," "Dancing With the Stars," "Project Runway," "So You Think You Can Dance" and "Top Chef" are the 63rd Primetime Emmy Awards nominees for reality-competition program.

Last year, Bravo's culinary series "Top Chef," hosted by Padma Lakshmi and chef Tom Colicchio, took top honors for reality-competition program, defeating CBS' "The Amazing Race," which had won the award in all seven years since the category's inception. "American Idol," "Dancing With the Stars" and "Project Runway" were also nominated in 2010.

The Emmy Awards will take place Sept. 18 and will be televised live on Fox. We'll have all the breaking news and reactions here on Awards Tracker.


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Photo: Tom Colicchio on "Top Chef: All-Stars." Credit: Bravo.

Poll: 'American Idol's' Scotty McCreery -- Future flop? Superstar?

Scotty McCreery American Idol music newsMany pundits claim Scotty McCreery is poised to squash Lauren Alaina and emerge as the new "American Idol" champ. Win or lose, he's defied the odds to survive this far, so that begs the question: Can he launch a successful music career -- the kind that wins Grammys and other music trophies?

Past "American Idol" champs haven't fared well at the Grammys -– with two exceptions. Carrie Underwood (a country crooner like McCreery) has won five Grammys, including best new artist. Kelly Clarkson has won two in the pop categories.

However, many "Idol" also-rans such as Daughtry, Jennifer Hudson and Adam Lambert have had breakout careers. So maybe it's best that he doesn't win?


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-- Tom O'Neil

Photo: Scotty McCreery. Credit: Michael Becker/ Fox

Can 'Top Chef' whip up another Emmy?

Top chef tv news"Top Chef" pulled off a shocking upset at last year's Emmys, winning best reality-competition show over "The Amazing Race," which had triumphed the previous six years. Of course, "Top Chef" also beat "American Idol," which has, surprisingly, never won and remains overdue.

Now that "Top Chef" has wrapped its latest season, does it have the right recipe for Emmy success again?

Some of our forum posters believe the program has sustained its quality this year as it brought back 18 past contestants for another chance to prevail. Winner turned out to be Season 4 runner-up Richard Blais.

"This is my favorite season of the show so far," writes our poster Benito Delicias. "I loved having them all back, I loved every minute of it whether I agreed with the results or not."

A different poster believes another TV program has the inside track this year based on the episode choices it has to submit to Emmy judges. Atypical says, "If 'Project Runway' submits either 'There Is an "I" in Team' or 'There's a Pattern Here,' then I'm predicting them to win reality-competition program outright."

Read more comments here.


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-- Tom O'Neil

Memo to 'American Idol': Submit this week's results show to Emmys

American Idol Casey Abrams TV newsThursday's results show of "American Idol" had it all: surprise guests Stevie Wonder and Hulk Hogan, a birthday party, a standout performance from Oscar winner Jennifer Hudson, and all ranges of emotion. In fact, the only thing missing from the elimination show was ...  an elimination. Judges Randy Jackson, Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler shocked the crowd by using their judges' save on the lowest vote-getter, Casey Abrams, and the results were Emmy gold. This is just the kind of segment of "American Idol" that producers should send to Emmy judges.

As Abrams sang for his life to the judges, Jackson signaled for him to stop.  "Listen, we know who you are, Casey," Jackson said. "We don't need to hear you sing anymore."

Tyler chimed in: "This is crazy wrong. I mean, we made a decision here to keep you on." Hearing that, Abrams immediately began shaking uncontrollably, looking for a brief moment like he was going to faint. Ryan Seacrest kept a worried eye on Abrams as he ran around the stage in hysterics, thanking the judges, screaming in delight and hugging his parents.

In the past, "Idol" producers submitted their season finales to Emmy voters judging the reality-competition race. Last year, many awards pundits thought the series finally had a shot at taking home the prize. In addition to the crowning of Lee DeWyze and the extensive list of guest performers (including Janet Jackson and Bret Michaels), last year's episode submission included Simon Cowell's tear-filled goodbye episode. Alas, "Idol" still couldn't catch a break, and "Top Chef" came away with a surprise victory over seven-time winner "The Amazing Race."

It's time for the hit show to try a new angle with the Emmys, and this week's emotional results show might be its best shot at finally taking home the elusive prize.

Watch the emotional video here:

— Tom O'Neil


Photo: Ryan Seacrest and Casey Abrams (Fox TV)

Poll: Can 'Amazing Race' rally to beat 'Top Chef' and 'American Idol' at the Emmys?

Amazing race charms tv newsNow that the new season of "The Amazing Race" is underway, TV viewers can decide: Is it good enough to help the show win the Emmy race for best reality/competition TV show again?

Until last year, "The Amazing Race" ruled the Emmy contest seven years in a row – dating back to when the category was created. The CBS program was a serious contender to repeat last year, while "American Idol" was considered to be its chief rival. However, "Top Chef" ultimately derailed "The Amazing Race's" amazing Emmy juggernaut.

The 18th season of "The Amazing Race" features 11 losing teams from previous TV seasons, vying for a new chance to win $1 million.

In Sunday night's episode, contestants were instructed to travel 2,700 miles from Japan to Lijiang, China, aboard trains, yaks and gondolas. Among the challenges they faced: searching through thousands of dangling charms to find the 12 Chinese zodiac animals.

-- Tom O'Neil

Photo: Episode 4 of "The Amazing Race" Season 18. Credit: CBS

Do you think the new 'American Idol' is a winner? [poll]

American idolTV viewers seem to like the newly overhauled "American Idol" enough to keep it on top of the ratings heap, despite a decline from last year. Certainly, it's nothing like the complete tanking that some expected.

Assuming the TV talent show continues down this path, the next question is: What will the industry think? In the past, "American Idol" has been not only the top-rated reality program but also TV's ratings king, period. Nonetheless, it's been shunned by Emmy voters within the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, who represent the workaday soldiers of Hollywood's TV biz.

Eight times "American Idol" has been nominated for reality-competition TV show. It lost seven times to "Amazing Race" and, most recently, to "Top Chef." An Emmy curse seems to be looming over host Ryan Seacrest too. He's lost in the competition for reality TV host three times.

Let's forget who will win the newest "American Idol" for a second -– whether it's Casey Abrams, Lauren Alaina, Jacob Lusk, Scotty McCreery or Karen Rodriguez. Can "American Idol" ever win TV's top trophy?


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-- Tom O'Neil


Photo: Lauren Alaina performs in front of the judges. Credit: Ray Mickshaw / Fox


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