American Idol will replace the on-stage band with audience members

American Idol has hired Ray Chew as its new band director, but is planning to hide him and the musicians, replacing them on the stage with audience members, because as we all know, American Idol‘s biggest problem was that it had too few coached audience members getting screen time.

The Hollywood Reporter first reported that Ray Chew would join the show; he’s previously produced and conducted live music for live TV shows such as the Grammys, the 2008 Democractic National Convention, and The Singing Bee. (Watch his reel to see what’s he’s done.)

Executive producer Ken Warwick told Entertainment Weekly that the band is being moved: “At the moment, the [upper] tier that was where the band was is now going to be audience. The plan is that the band will come out when required. There’s going to be a whole new kind of arena feel to the whole proceeding.”

MJ reminds us that the show didn’t always have live music: season four was the first season with Rickey Minor and a live band; she also speculates that the show’s new mentor could create backing tracks that the band would add to.

Meanwhile, reports continue to come in about format changes; most recently, Joe’s Place reported that “The top 40 will be brought back to Hollywood for a round called ‘Sing For Your Life’.”

The Quest ends its journey stronger than it began

Verlox from The Quest

A review of the finale of summer's best reality series, which wasn't always perfect but was thoroughly entertaining right down to the finish, which included phenomenal challenges and special effects. Will ABC give it a second season?

Plus: an interview with the actor who played Verlox and the ogre.

Shark Tank is getting a spin-off

Shark Tank

Companies that get deals on the show will be followed for this new spin-off.

Also: Before the show began, Shark Barbara Corcoran was cast and then replaced--but then she sent this amazing e-mail and won the job.

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.