SHIFTING OUT OF IDOL: Canadian Idol producer John Brunton broke the fourth wall of studied ambivalence required of reality show producers yesterday with a public statement reacting to the elimination of half the show’s singers from Toronto on Wednesday night’s show. The first major cut of singers from the Top 22 saw three Toronto natives — Christine Hanlon, Derek Hoffman and Justyn Wesley — sent home by Idol voters, which seems to have been a last straw for Brunton.


“I’m not really supposed to do this,” Brunton said in a statement released by CTV. “I’m supposed to be impartial. But as a born and bred Torontonian, I’m fed up with the lack of attention and respect paid to the bright, young singers from Toronto. They deserve more. It should not be a disadvantage to be a Canadian Idol competitor from Toronto.”


Obviously, Brunton is blaming the viewers — or more to the point, the aggressive regionalism that sees voters supporting local favourites, or at least supporting them in greater numbers than Toronto voters, it would seem.


“While the rest of the country is buzzing about Canadian Idol and the success of their hometown heroes,” Brunton writes, “Toronto is not paying attention. Toronto is not supporting the local talent found right in its own backyard.


“Each year, more people come out to audition in Toronto than in any other city. Each year, Canadian Idol judges select more people from Toronto to be in the Top 22 than any other city. But no competitor from Toronto has made it to the Top 10 since Season One, four years ago, and that’s pathetic.”

While Brunton, as the show’s producer, might be privy to the numbers that indicate a telling indifference from Toronto when the phone lines open to vote on Idol, at this point it might be political to suggest the first four singers sent home deserved to go, at least according to the voters, whose regional loyalties might be a bit more diffuse at the top of the competition, with so many singers to choose to support.

Of course, the cynic — and the Torontonian — in me wonders if the lack of a Toronto singer to support might be regarded as a calamity for the simple reason that, with Toronto unrepresented as the show heads toward the finals, viewers in the country’s largest and most affluent urban agglomeration might be less likely to tune in — and adversely affect the breakdown of marketing statistics.

Of course, that’s both cynical and, yes, perhaps a little arrogant, but if you’re going to run a show based around viewer voting, you probably have to resign yourself to the frequently disappointing results you get when you let someone else do the steering. Either that or go all banana republic and start with the bribery and coercion.