American Idol debuts a new, more intimate set as executive says it’s “disappointing,” needs “fresh energy”

An executive at Fox’s parent company criticized American Idol in front of investors yesterday, prompting a reply from the show’s executive producer, Nigel Lythgoe.

News Corp.’s president, deputy chair and COO Chase Carey told investors on a call that the show is “still a big hit any way you measure TV series” and “still a big franchise” that has “a lot of legs left in it,” but he said that its “ratings today are a bit disappointing” and it “right now is clearly a glass half full.” He said it needs “freshness and excitement and originality,” and said Fox needs to add “fresh energy” and “new dimensions and aspects” to it.

Lythgoe responded on Twitter, clearly annoyed: “Maybe if the COO bothers to watch #IDOL tonight he may give us a little more support in the future. Certainly more than he gave us today!!!”

I’m not sure what “energy” or “new dimensions” would wake up American Idol, but it debuted a new, intimate, even small set last night for the first live performance. I really like it, especially the walls that have cube-shaped screens, but the two moats for the torsos of annoying fans are annoying.

The show will hurry its way through this semi-final round, finding its finalists after a single performance by each semi-finalist, so we’ll have the top 13 on Thursday. And then the long hike to the finale begins.

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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.