American Idol

Lythgoe talks 'Idol' voting shakeup

Aug. 5, 2011 at 1:42 PM ET

A series of shocking eliminations on “American Idol” last season left many fans and critics wondering if the voting system was in need of an overhaul. Now it seems the bigwigs behind the scenes are wondering about the very same thing.

After the ouster of early favorite Pia Toscano and the unexpected boot for metal man James Durbin, many blamed the powerful pop, country, and cute-guy-loving voting bloc of young girls. But how can the show effectively reduce the impact of that tween vote? In an interview with TVLine, “Idol” executive producer Nigel Lythgoe revealed that one option under consideration is simply to reduce the number of votes anyone can make.

“We have spoken about it,” Lythogoe explained. “We continue to speak about it. It’s very difficult to go from saying we had 120 million votes (in Season 10), then turning around next year and saying, “We got 15,000 votes this week!” … I mean, it’s never going to be 15,000, really; we’d probably be down to 30 million, but people would use that to say the program is losing viewers. That said, there still could be a ceiling put on certain votes, be it text (votes), maybe. I think we currently limit online voting to 50 votes, so maybe we could do the same for texting. We’re still discussing.”

But that’s not the only idea “Idol” bosses are batting around. In fact, even though just months ago co-executive producer Ken Warwick said he “wouldn’t put too much faith” in the idea of judges having a say in who stays and who goes, Lythgoe admits he’s partial to that very change.

“I still like the judges being able to sort of look at the bottom two, and choose one of them, or assist in America’s vote,” he insisted. “Don’t forget: America doesn’t vote people off the program, it votes to keep people on the program. And in that, rather like (‘So You Think You Can Dance,’) the bottom two could be looked at, and the decision could be made by the judges.”

For more "Idol" insider scoop, read Lythgoe's entire interview.

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