LAST EDITED ON 08-20-02 AT 07:30 AM (EST)
Found this one today... bad news for any of you who still thought Nikki had a chance to win.
Voting for 'Idol' could mean a hang-up
By Gary Levin, USA TODAY
You know those calluses you're getting from speed-dialing to vote for an American Idol contestant?
Turns out producers are not necessarily bound by the public's vote to pick the winner of a $1 million recording contract. That's the fine print in the exhaustive legal document signed by every contestant on Idol, and, for that matter, most other reality series.
Kelly Clarkson, Tamyra Gray, Justin Guarini and Nikki McKibbin, along with their ousted competitors, got the chance to compete by agreeing that rules of the show can be changed — at any time, for almost any reason. And producers can pick the winner in the event of a "partial or total failure" of the phone system used to log ballots.
Fox and producers say the contract language offers legal protection but doesn't signal any intent to mess with the show.
"That would be the dumbest thing in the world," says co-executive producer Nigel Lythgoe. "The minute you take away somebody the public's voting for, you're screwing with the program. There's no logic to it."
Accusations have been flying about unfair voting by broadband Internet users speed-dialing thousands of votes. In addition to the 60 million calls logged, many callers have received busy signals.
Idol is the top new summer series among young adults. "This show is big, so everything that happens, people care about," says Fox's Mike Darnell.
So far, Lythgoe says, the contract's rule-change clause was used in England to permit finalist Rik Waller to skip a week's competition after losing his voice. It was used in the USA when one of 30 finalists was quietly removed after a background check. But he says every televised outcome has been dictated by viewers.
Citing similar contract language for Survivor, contestant Stacey Stillman sued CBS and producers early last year, charging they manipulated her ouster by urging players to shift alliances. The charges have been vehemently denied; the suit is pending.
Because it doesn't involve intellectual knowledge or skill, Idol is not subject to federal rules adopted after the 1950s quiz-show scandals to halt undue influences on the outcome of TV contests.
Yet Idol is under extra scrutiny because it's the only show that has been marketed as allowing viewers to determine the outcome. In the U.K., the show adopted that rule partly to generate revenue, earning nearly $4 million for 32 million toll calls.
In the USA, toll numbers aren't used because several states prohibit them for contests and because young viewers can't vote without a parent's permission.
Nice to also have the update on Stacey Stillman's whine-fest- er, lawsuit.
The Artist Formerly Known As DarkLotus
Daddy, there's a monster outside my room. Can I have a glass of water?
edited cause I'm an idiot and forgot to add actual content