Idol wouldn’t say “Inglourious Basterds” yet is considering Sacha Baron Cohen for the finale

A reporter from USA TODAY spent last Tuesday with American Idol producer Ken Warwick, and witnessed the creation of the stupid-ass two-by-two judging format–and the response from the judges. Along the way, he also observed some of the most ludicrous hypocrisy ever: The show that allows its host and star judge to taunt each other with immature gay jokes actually refused to broadcast the name of Quentin Tarantino’s upcoming film Inglorious Basterds–and is also considering having Sacha Baron Cohen appear on the live finale.

“We’re talking about Sacha Baron Cohen doing something. The trouble is he always goes a little bit off the rails, and we’ve got to be very careful. It’s a family show,” executive producer Ken Warwick told the paper. Earlier, he said the same thing–”family show”–when he revealed that they would not broadcast the name of Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds.

That’s presumably not because of the word “inglorious” and the fact that some families don’t know what that means, but because of “basterds,” which is a word that causes small children to die when they hear it.

Seriously, none of this makes any sense except in some universe where everyone in the studio has consumed some kind of batshit crazy Kool-Aid. Joking that Paula Abdul is drunk is okay but the word “basterds” is not? And what person in their right mind thinks Sacha Baron Cohen is going to put on a G-rated performance? Still, if they want him, that’s great, because he’s awesome and I’d love to see him put on his swimsuit and hump Randy, Simon, and Ryan.

The other major news in the piece–besides the finalists’ wardrobe budget, which is $400 a week this year–is a rundown of how the show ran over time yet again even after deciding to change up its judging.

Warwick knew there was going to be an overrun all day, and made the decision at noon to cut half the judges, saying they “should understand.” That was hours after he knew the show was going to run over in part because of the pre-taped Quentin Tarantino package, which presented its own problem. USA TODAY says Warwick had to meet with the network and studio because “the Tarantino package contains footage that would amount to free advertising that could upset paying sponsors.”

At 12:45, he dealt with that by having his staff “make two versions” of the Tarantino package. So why the hell wouldn’t he cut it down to, say, one minute instead of seven, then? That, too, makes no sense. Although in fairness, the one that aired was the “shorter version,” according to the paper. Shorter?!

Before three, there was “a meltdown,” according to a staff member who came to Warwick: the judges’ were pissed. More than a half-hour later, Warwick returned from dealing with them and said, “All the judges weren’t madly happy,” and that he “went and explained it.” Paula was particularly concerned that the format would stick, but Warwick said, “She’s OK now.”

Yes, but the show, alas, was not.

A day in the life of ‘Idol,’ from rehearsals to the live show [USA TODAY]

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.