American Idol 4 begins its run tonight.

American Idol 4 begins its run tonight.
American Idol 4 debuts with a two-hour premiere tonight at 8 p.m. ET, followed by an hour-long show tomorrow night that also airs at 8. (Next week it airs for an hour at 8 both nights, and eventually settles into a Tuesday night at 8 and Wednesday night at 9 pattern; during the semi-finals, the show will air Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays.) The show is undergoing some changes, including a shift in the semi-final structure, as 12 men and 12 women will face off during that round. The show also gets a new set and graphics, woo. Although it’s obvious that FOX needs this show to recover from poor ratings in the fall, FOX president Gail Berman told TV critics “we can expect to see audience dispersion and some declines. I think that is only natural.” She added, “What surprised me last year, its third year, was that its audience grew. We certainly don’t expect to see that this year.” In other words, if the ratings suck, we’ll look like we expected it; otherwise, we can pretend that the show is defying our low, low expectations.

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.