Idol 8 will have top 36, “fewer bad singers,” bring back wild card, drop Thursday eps

American Idol 8‘s changes are detailed in an internal Fox memo obtained by MJ’s Big Blog, a site that’s increasingly a strong source for news related to the show.

Among the quasi-big changes: no Thursday episodes, although the number of hours the show is on the air won’t change; auditions will be cut to three weeks (not eliminated altogether, as was rumored); and Hollywood week will be expanded to air over two weeks.

The memo also says that the show’s “[p]romotional thrust will have fewer bad singers and more ‘aspirational’ singers,” and says that the wild card week, when eliminated contestants get to come back, will return. MJ points out that the memo doesn’t specify how the new wild card round will work: “Will they go back to the way they did it Seasons 1-3–which was to have groups of contestants perform each week, with the Top vote getters moving on to the Top 12?”

The memo, identified as the “FOX Network Program Executive Council” minutes from December, reads like this:

“January through March details will hopefully be released before the Holidays. All episodes will be Tuesday-Wednesday. No Thursday’s planned; same overall number of hours as last year. There will be 3 weeks of auditions and 2 weeks of Hollywood rounds. There will be 36 contestants coming here to Hollywood as opposed to 24 last year. There will be a wild card week and there will continue to be 12 contestants in the Finals. There will be a couple of more 2 hour shows than in the past. Promotional thrust will have fewer bad singers and more ‘aspirational’ singers. There will be no Idol Gives Back.”

That last part isn’t really surprising because of the low ratings for the telethon last season, and because executive producer Cecile Frot-Coutaz–who knows how much the show’s viewers hate staring at poor peopletold the AP last spring, “I would like to take a break, personally. In the U.K., they do ‘Comic Relief’ every two years. I think that’s the right amount of time. I don’t think you should go back to the country and ask them to donate every single year. I think it’s too much. Every two years to me feels right.”

BREAKING: Idol Schedule Set – Auditions Cut Back, Hollywood Round Expanded, Top 36 Coming to Hollywood, Wildcard Round Brought Back! [MJ’s Big Blog]
‘Idol’ boss says Paula isn’t going anywhere [AP]