Fox: Idol’s real problem is its kids

Fox CEO Peter Rice admitted the show needs to do a better job of casting

Peter Rice, Chairman and CEO, FOX Networks Group (Photo by Dan Steinberg/FOX)

Peter Rice, Chairman and CEO, FOX Networks Group (Photo by Dan Steinberg/FOX)

Fox Networks chair and CEO Peter Rice was very candid with TV critics about the American Idol, the broadcast network’s former crown jewel, and its strengths and weaknesses. He said the network is happy with the ratings (“it’s still a very strong show for us”) and its new creative direction (“we felt really good about the production”), but admitted it is “aging gracefully” and has “played musical chairs in the last few years with the judges.”

The remaining problem, Rice said, is the show’s cast:

“If I have a criticism of the show for us last year, it is that we haven’t found, in the last two years, a group of kids who have captured the imagination of the public. They’ve been really talented kids, but for whatever reason, there hasn’t been that catalyst behind the show. And going into this year, how do we focus on that and not get wrapped up in this constant conversation about who should be the judges and whether they’ve done a good job.”

Yes. That. A perfect cast won’t make the show number one all over again, but it will really help. It’s been several seasons since there has been a breakout, memorable character, whether that’s a Carrie Underwood or a Sanjaya. Not every contestant can be Clay Aiken or Kelly Pickler, but there need to be some big, bright personalities in the mix.

For better or worse, Idol is not about the chemistry between the judges in the same way The Voice is, which is why the NBC show can still thrive despite not having any memorable contestants. Idol can’t.

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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.