Idol 4 changes include shorter semifinals, shift in use of celebrity guest judges.

Idol 4 changes include shorter semifinals, shift in use of celebrity guest judges.
Changes for the fourth season of American Idol will affect the way the show structures the semifinal competitions and how it uses guest judges. Celebrity guest judges will most likely disappear from the end of the series, while “[m]usicians such as Gene Simmons, LL Cool J, Brandy and Kenny Loggins will join judges Simon Cowell, Paula Abdul and Randy Jackson” during the auditions, according to USA TODAY. Additionally, the semifinals “will be shortened from five weeks to three, with judges picking 24 singers (12 men and 12 women)–rather than the 32 of last season–from the Hollywood round. In the semifinals’ first week, which starts Feb. 21, the women and men will be split into groups, one performing Monday, followed by the other on Tuesday. Viewers will vote to eliminate the bottom two from each group on Wednesday. That process will be repeated for two weeks, resulting in six male and six female singers in the final 12,” the paper says. That’s different from last year, when “eight of the 32 semifinalists sang each week, and viewers chose two of them for the finals.” There will also be more Hollywood episodes focusing on the contestants who make it to that stage of the competition.

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.