Carly Smithson voted out despite Simon Cowell’s praise

As Ryan Seacrest went to a commercial Wednesday night, the camera showed Jason Castro standing backstage with four other American Idol 7 finalists. They were waiting to learn their fate, and he was yawning. Apparently, he’s as bored with the show as many people are with it–and with him, but incredibly, he was not eliminated. He wasn’t even at risk.

Instead, Carly Smithson, the season’s most prominent ringer (although every remaining contestant is someone who’s had experience in the music industry or on TV), left the competition in what doesn’t quite qualify as a shocking elimination, but was still surprising.

She was joined in the bottom two by Syesha Mercado, even though both were praised for their performances of Andrew Lloyd Webber music Tuesday night. Randy Jackson said, “I am shocked. It must be a bit of a popularity week in the vote, Ryan; those two sang really good last night.” Simon Cowell apologized for praising her performance Tuesday, joking that the public decided to vote against her because he liked her.

Somehow, Brooke’s screw-up didn’t hurt her, as she wasn’t in the bottom two, nor was Jason, whose performance of “Memory” was something everyone wants to forget.

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.