"Idol" slide continues after judge mix-up

Fri May 2, 2008 4:07am EDT
 
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LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - A night after Tuesday's much-discussed on-air blunder by "American Idol" judge Paula Abdul, the results show of the talent show lost 1.2 million viewers from the previous week.

With "Idol" (22.1 million viewers vs. 23.3 million) already having dropped in nearly every episode in recent weeks, however, that means the reality show has once again hit a five-year low. A year ago, the show averaged 29 million viewers.

On Tuesday's episode, a last-minute procedural change resulted in the judges critiquing contestants' first round of performances instead of waiting until the end of the second round. Abdul gave a negative review of contestant Jason Castro's two songs.

The only problem: Castro had sung only one song.

His second performance -- of Neil Diamond's "September Morn" -- was from the "Idol" rehearsal and was scheduled for later during the show. Judges are supposed to base their critiques on how contestants perform during the live telecast, not the rehearsal.

The on-air gaffe has unleashed a tsunami of comments from fans online accusing Abdul of being, at best, unfairly prejudging of Castro and, at worst, part of a competition series where judges' comments are determined in advance. Abdul said the next day that she was "confused."

At the other end of the reality ratings spectrum, the CW debuted "Farmer Wants a Wife" (2.4 million) up against "Idol," and the result was a lower premiere rating than the CW's previous reality effort, "Crowned." "Farmer" did slightly improve on its time-period average, however.

Fox won the night with 14.1 million viewers, followed by CBS (10.5 million), NBC (8.4 million), ABC (6.2 million) and the CW (3.2 million).

Reuters/Hollywood Reporter

 
<p>American Idol judge Paula Abdul gestures on stage at the "Idol Gives Back" show at the Kodak theatre in Hollywood, California April 6, 2008. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni</p>