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Upfronts: A new and improved 'American Idol'?

May 15, 2008 |  9:56 am

When "American Idol" returns for its eighth season in January, it will still be a singing competition. But get ready for some significant changes in terms of how the show is produced.

Acknowledging that he's not pleased with the performance of the show this year, Fox Chairman Peter Liguori told reporters during a conference call Thursday that he has met with the show’s producers and “everyone is really committed and excited” to revamp the show next year.

“Both the network and the producers really want to take a look at  the show for next year and see what we can to do inject it with new levels of energy and new unpredictable twists and turns and ramp up the storytelling,” Liguori said.  “We do constantly want to make this show the most relevant, zeitgeisty show on TV to keep it on the tips of everyone’s tongue.”

Liguori said the writers strike is partly to blame for the show’s ratings declines. 

“We think the show has somewhat suffered from the post-strike malaise of folks watching less broadcast TV,” he said.

Asked whether the cast was also responsible for viewers turning away, President of Entertainment Kevin Reilly replied:

“Let’s put it in some context. ...It’s not like it’s in the death throes here,” he said. “There’s some real charm in that cast. Whether it’s caught the world on fire, I don’t know. Some of it is just natural maturity of the show. It’s been a phenomenon, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t go through some natural aging just like any other show. We’ll do some of those creative twists next season, and we’ll see what comes out of it."

Liguori also said that the Wednesday results show will, at least on most weeks, go back to a half-hour. One thing that won’t change: the people sitting at the judges table.

“We love Paula,” Liguori said, responding to a question. “She’s coming back.”

-- Maria Elena Fernandez