Richard Rushfield's American Idol Journey
Where Can The Idols Find a Mansion?
One of the most contentious issues in Idol production is the matter of whether to have them live together, Real World style, in a house which would be shown on the air. When the cameras first rolled on Season 1 and the Idols moved into a mansion in the hills together, the plan was initially to film them candidly hanging around the house. Nigel Lythgoe told me in an interview (more of which can of course be found in my upcoming book) that he nixed the Real World scenes, thinking they were derivative of other shows and wanting Idol to feel fresh and original. Instead of candid footage that season saw a lot of staged “getting a makeover, having their first photo session” pieces shot at the mansion.
(While little of the drama got captured on camera, off screen that year’s mansion had plenty but for that you’ll have to wait for my book.)
After Season Two and its raft of contestant disqualifications, the Idols were moved into a more dorm like atmosphere, a non-descript apartment building in Hollywood which was never shown on camera.
Season Eight, however, seeking more drama, sent the Idols back to the mansion in the hills. The problem, the production found however, was most of the time the Idols were there they were half comatose, exhausted from their workload, which didnt make for much reality TV fodder. The following season they were back in the dorms.
And now i seems they are headed back to the hills. The Hollywood Reporter reports:
“Transparency” is the production theme this year, an idea being championed by series mastermind Simon Fuller. It means producers are looking to add behind-the-scenes elements and find ways to have the singers interact with fans.
These plans are still in development and could change, but as of now producers intend to have the Top 12 live together in a house in the Hollywood Hills. There, they will be allowed to chat with fans via Twitter. Singers had social media accounts for a period of time last season, then the accounts were abruptly consolidated into a single Idol feed midway through the run. Word is producers will further relax their Twitter rules for season ten.
The big question is whether Fox, which declined to comment for this story, is going to make the Idol house a visible part of the show. Will the network air behind-the-scenes footage from the Top 12 hanging around and recording confessionals, like on other reality shows? The creative details on the Idol house are still being worked out, but the answer seems to be: It depends how compelling the footage is.
For Idol Nation, the talk of a mansion in the hills, equipped for live twitter sessions and 24/7 transparency will ring some bells. A little experiment of the year past, that happens to be sitting open right now….Could this be the next Idol Mansion?
At least Phyllis won’t be there to keep them awake at night…