Report: Producers tell Simon who to insult, banter with Ryan is planned

A report in the upcoming issue of Star says that the banter between Ryan Seacrest and Simon Cowell is not spontaneous, but is instead “outlined,” and that Cowell’s insults are pre-planned.

An “insider” tells the tabloid, “Most of these rifts have been outlined. … The truth is Ryan is just as focused on the show’s popularity as Simon. There’s no real drama. It’s all for the cameras!” (That last part isn’t a surprise; Ryan and Simon are well-documented buddies.)

More damning, however, is the anonymous person’s accusations that the show’s executive producer tells Simon who to criticize. “The executive producer of the show, Nigel Lythgoe, watches the rehearsals and writes notes on who Simon should make snarky comments about. That’s what’s on the sheets of paper on the judging desk. Simon is not the evil guy you think he is,” the source tells Star, according to Jeannette Walls’ account.

If true, that would seem to compromise the show’s integrity as a competition; if Simon criticizes someone, the voting audience frequently listens, and telling him to target certain singers could lead to viewers targeting that person.

Was Simon and Ryan’s ‘Idol’ spat scripted? [MSNBC]

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.