American Idol gives Hollywood contestants a second chance, will pick top 24 tonight

Despite a new format that offered each of the 164 contestants two chances to make it through, American Idol 7 burned through its Hollywood round in a single two-hour episode. The top 24 will be selected tonight.

Everyone performed in front of the judges–with an optional instrument–and no one was cut during that first round. Instead, the judges voted to either send them on to the final day or give them a second chance. Those who didn’t make it came back and performed a capella, and if they made it through that, joined the group from the first day and performed individually with the live band and back-up singers. Ultimately, then, everyone had two chances to make the top 50, and some had three.

Oddly, the judges narrowed the group to 50 by the end of the episode, meaning that tomorrow night’s hour-long episode will apparently consist of only the final judgment, when contestants take an elevator that opens onto a long room, walk to the other end, and learn their fate. That, and probably a bunch of flashback clip packages. The Hollywood episode itself contained a number of flashbacks to remind us who these people were, and then concluded with a clip package set to music that looked back at the “emotional journey” that took place over the previous two hours, as if we’d already forgotten what happened during the past two hours.

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.