finale voting time doubled; busy signals get idiots press; columnist offers fixes.

finale voting time doubled; busy signals get idiots press; columnist offers fixes.
Four hours will be allotted for voting during the American Idol 3 finale next week, Reuters reports. The same adjustment was made last year, though, so this isn’t really a change. Still, FOX is responding to critics of the voting system, saying in a statement, “An independent company manages and tallies the (‘American Idol’) votes each week ensuring fairness. The reporting systems used are secure and there are multiple fail safes to ensure that the figures reported are accurate.” This isn’t likely to silence the critics or conspiracy theorists, or the idiots who manage to get their names in the paper. Such is the case with an assclown that the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Jennifer Brett found: The paper reports that Forsyth County resident “Frieda Wilkens has been trying for weeks to vote” for Diana DeGarmo. However, Frieda just received busy signals for Diana, a contestant who’s still in the competition, meaning lots of other people were calling for her. Lots of people calling the same number is generally what busy signals indicate, at least outside of Georgia. Still, Frieda, who also had problems voting for Clay Aiken, concludes, “There’s something fishy going on.” Seriously, what the hell is going on in our country? The paper reports that Frieda “has achieved success just once this season when trying to call in–and that’s when she rang up a vote for finalist Jasmine Trias.” And we wonder why Jasmine is still around. … In more rational parts of the country, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s Tim Cuprisin has 10 suggestions for fixing the show. He starts with a fix designed to correct voting irregularities: “Give the judges a once-a-season veto.” His other suggestions are broader, although some are just mean (such as getting rid of Seacrest–impossible!). They include: “Trim the show,” “Cut the cheesy videos,” “Raise the age limit,” and “Ax the guest judges.”

The Sing-Off loses its star

Ben Folds

NBC's super-fun December a capella singing competition The Sing-Off is returning, but without its star judge, Ben Folds, and only as a two-hour special. Those are really depressing changes for a series that proved itself to be a super-fun show when it returned last December.

A film director talks about becoming a reality TV character

Anna Martemucci

What is it like to have your life turned into reality TV? Director Anna Martemucci, one of the two directors featured on Starz' exceptional reality series, talks about that, the competition, and her collaboration with her husband and brother-in-law.

Plus: How the show's producers tried to keep the $250,000 competition fair.

about the writer

Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 36, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.