MUSICAL HANGING CHADS?
Drudge links several pieces on last night’s American Idol, which was won by a fat man from Birmingham by the slimmest of margins. The Sacramento Bee reports an overload of the phone system after Tuesday night’s show.
However, in a low-stakes replay of the 2000 presidential contest, the outcome conflicts with the polling results and is highly controversial. WaPo reports that the producers of the show essentially rigged the contest so that Studdard would win:
The “American Idol” producers, however, had to have gone tingly all over with the outcome, having labored for weeks to influence viewers to vote for Studdard.
From the get-go, acid-tongued judge Simon Cowell, who is also one of the show’s executive producers, spared Studdard all discussion of his weight, for instance, while harshly criticizing the physiques of other contestants.
When even irritatingly uncritical judge Paula Abdul had issues with Studdard’s performance, Cowell checked himself. And he was furious with viewers when Studdard landed in the bottom two a few weeks back.
Don’t take our word for it; contestant Kimberley Locke said as much last week before she got the heave-ho, telling Newsweek that Simon had said at every opportunity “they want Ruben”; the magazine also reported that Cowell said that “what you’re trying to do, if you can, is to tell the audience who you want to be in the final. You’re not getting accurate judging.”
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The producers care who wins because they are compelled to sign him or her to a $1 million recording contract and management deal. Clearly they think they know how to market Studdard.
Regardless of the manipulation, Studdard’s 1335 vote victory–out of 24 million votes–was a surprise to many:
Washington-based business intelligence and marketing firm New Media Strategy, which had put out a news release forecasting a close Aiken win. (NMS CEO Pete Snyder, former pollster for former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani, is the guy who nicknamed Studdard the “Round Mound of Sound.”)
And the people at Amazon.com, who reported earlier this week that Aiken’s not-yet-released single was the Web site’s top-selling CD, while Studdard’s was way back at No. 386.
Drudge also splashes the headlines “Calls for Audit Hit ‘Idol'” and “‘I think we are looking at a modern day version of the $64k,000 question!” with no link or sourcing.
Update (12:17): Drudge now has an actual story. It turns out to be, shockingly, less dramatic than the headline:
“Listen, I’ve been around Hollywood for a long, long time, and this reeks of a contrived, phony ending,” a top executive from a rival network charged Thursday morning. “No one here believes for one second the votes landed just 1,300 apart. It’s a disgrace… in fact, I think we are looking at a modern day version of the $64,000 question!”
So, it’s a jealous executive from a competing network who was the source of both quotes above.
And, as Tom Royce points out in the comments section below, the narrow results were virtually guaranteed given the voting method chosen.