It's been almost a week since Pia Toscano was eliminated from American Idol, and the rumor mill is still going strong that it was rigged. Fingers have been pointed at the show's executive producer, Nigel Lythgoe, whom many are saying orchestrated the shocking loss in an attempt to generate drama and suspense.
As Idol fans demand a recount of votes and insist they will never watch the show again, Nigel spoke out Tuesday at the HRTS Newsmakers Luncheon Series about Idol's voting system and why the exact number of votes each contestant receives is kept from viewers...
"There are always conspiracy theories, but you know we are so careful," Nigel said. "[Voting is] done through AT&T and we get the results. It's done so openly. We've got all the terrible things happening around the world with Libya, with Japan and what's everyone talking about? 'How did Pia get voted off?'"
While many think Pia was put in the eliminated position for ratings, Nigel laughed off the idea that the show's objective is to build up hopeful singers only to pull the rug out from under them.
"We really do root for them. It's the first time [Pia] sang an up-tempo song. All the judges were saying sing an up tempo song. We have a reinvigoration of the series that I think we are at a time where we need to help these kids get out of their mundane lives and become stars. And I think the judges now are really urging them and pushing them though."
Nigel also went on to explain why viewers will never know the exact number of votes each contestant receives. "Let's take the Carrie Underwood season. Carrie Underwood won every single week," he said. "You show the vote and the show is over. There's no jeopardy if you're watching somebody win every single week."
While Idol does their best to buffer their tarnished reputation as a legitimate singing contest, NBC's The Voice is right around the corner making many wonder if Idol feels threatened by some healthy competition. Nigel candidly gave his opinion and is brushing The Voice off as another normal mentoring show.
"After the initial stage of that, the gag's over," he said. "I mean that's it. Once you've chosen your people, you know what they look like and then it's straight mentoring. I don't know the program, but the concept is you choose the voice by not seeing them. So you can pick a Susan Boyle—Shrek's older sister, you can pick the voice and then you mentor that person. So once that first initial week is over, then it becomes a normal mentoring show."
Nigel is confident in the staying power of Idol, calling it: "social glue." "I think it's been so obvious this week it's social glue," he said. "When your television program becomes the social glue that everyone wants to be talking about it, that's the power of your show."
What do you think of American Idol's voting system? Are you going to watch this week? Do you think The Voice will outshine Idol? Let us know in the comments!