Attention America: No matter how you feel about “American Idol” contestant Sanjaya Malakar, it must be admitted that he (and his ever-changing hairdos) make for great TV. At least that’s how “Idol” executive producer Ken Warwick sees it.
“Well, the fact of the matter is that someone on the show getting attention doesn’t really bother me, obviously,” says Warwick with a chuckle. “He’s still there [on the show], and one of the key things is to keep people interested and he’s certainly doing that.”
Warwick admits that looks and personality play as important a role in the competition as singing does.
“It’s all about communication with the public you know. There’s something in human nature that makes people gravitate to someone who’s good-looking — it’s nature, for goodness sake.”
He attributes Sanjaya’s looks as a factor in his success so far, especially with the young girls who turn out in droves to vote for him every week.
Warwick believes that Sanjaya can make it into the top five, but doesn’t personally see him going all the way to the end. He reminds everyone, though, “anything can happen.”
As for Simon Cowell’s infamous statement that he’ll leave the show if Sanjaya wins? “Rubbish,” says Warwick.
“America normally gets it right in the end. I don’t think — I’m pretty positive that Sanjaya will not be the “American Idol” this year.” He says that Simon only made that remark as a “press point” anyway, adding, “Simon’s not going anywhere, don’t worry.”
Talk turned to the various “initiatives” that have reportedly been set up to encourage viewers to vote or not vote for Sanjaya, including Howard Stern’s very vocal support of Sanjaya on his radio show, and whether those influences could actually have an affect on voting if implemented. Warwick answers with a definitive “no.”
“There is very little hype anybody can do with the vast number of votes that we get. I think that if every single person that listens to Howard Stern voted, it would still ... you know, the gap above and below Sanjaya is so big, that it wouldn’t affect the outcome at all.”
So what is the bottom line when it comes to Sanjaya’s appeal?
Warwick sums it up: “Say what you like about Sanjaya. He doesn’t actually have a bad voice, and he changes things up week after week, he’s always a talking point the next day, he changes his hair ... he’s a good-looking kid, and young girls love young, good-looking kids. He’s not the ‘bad singer’ that everybody’s making him out to be, and the judges said that last week. You know as well as I do that part of this business is your communication with the audience — and he’s certainly got that.”
Only time will tell how Sanjaya measures up as the competition becomes more heated, and the challenges more difficult. He and the other contestants will tackle Latino music with Jennifer Lopez and rock songs with Bon Jovi in coming weeks.