New "Idol' judges" veto divides fans

Thu Mar 12, 2009 5:06pm EDT
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By Jill Serjeant

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A rule change giving "American Idol" judges the power of veto for the first time in the talent show's seven-year history divided fans and TV critics on Thursday, with some calling it "un-American".

The "Judges' Save", announced Wednesday night, gives the four-person panel on U.S. television's most-watched show the power to save one contestant from elimination by the public just once during a season.

The judges must be unanimous and the new rule only applies until the contest narrows to the final five singers.

For a show whose appeal rests largely on its viewer-driven voting format, the change was seen as radical and unexpected.

Raising a "Bravo" for the producers, entertainment producer Gael Fashingbauer Cooper felt that taking a little power away from viewers was "a good thing."

"I trust (the judges') experienced musical judgment a little bit more than I trust the texting power of the audience," Cooper wrote in a comment column.

But's James Poniewozik called it bad TV, said it spoiled the elimination outrage fun, and dubbed it "un-American (Idol)".

"To the extent that 'Idol' sells itself as an exercise in democracy, in which you choose your next pop star, it needs to be pure," Poniewozik wrote in a blog on Thursday.   Continued...

<p>American Idol judges (from L-R) Randy Jackson, Paula Abdul and Simon Cowell sit at the "Idol Gives Back" show at the Kodak theatre in Hollywood, California April 6, 2008. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni</p>