IDOL MEA CULPA: At a session at last week’s summer TV critics’ press tour, American Idol co-creator Nigel Lythgoe was candid about what went wrong with the last season of the show, during a talk that was supposed to be about his other big hit, So You Think You Can Dance?


Lythgoe, who acts as a judge on the dance competition show, was supposed to be celebrating the top-rated summer reality show, currently waltzing through its third season, when the inevitable Idol question came up – probably asked by someone who, like this reviewer, had to suffer through the hell that was season six.

“We realized we made mistakes on Idol last season,'' Lythgoe was quoted as saying in Entertainment Weekly’s press tour blog. ''We were so engrossed with the mentors and didn't really focus on the Melinda Doolittles of the show. We didn't know them as much as the Kellie Picklers of last season.''

While it should have been clear to Idol’s producers that coming over all star-struck was going to be a mistake on a show that’s supposed to celebrate nobodies getting their big break, it will remain an abiding mystery why they chose to be star-struck about Gwen Stefani, Lulu, Peter Noone and the absurdly overexposed and substanceless Jennifer Lopez.

If this flaw can be tweaked out of season seven, perhaps by season eight or nine it might be possible to see the show let a singer with something like real talent make it to the final two. I am of course, asking too much, but the question remains largely rhetorical for me, as I don’t really give a rat’s ass.

BURNETT DOWN: Mark Burnett, onetime ruler of the reality TV universe, revealed at the press tour that he’s in talks with Global television about doing a Canadian version of his latest new hit, Are You Smarter Than A Fifth Grader? According to a Canadian Press story, a spokesperson for Canwest Global confirmed that the talks were taking place, but that the show had no place on the network’s schedule yet, nor had a host been chosen. (Please please please now is not the time to revive Mike Bullard’s career.)

Burnett also gave a few hints about the tweaking that’s gone into the upcoming season of Survivor, the show’s fifteenth, which has moved its setting from the usual tropical isle to mainland China. Burnett said that, among the changes, Exile Island had been eliminated from the show’s landscape of contestant challenges and punishments.

“We got rid of Exile Island," said Burnett. "We still have a hidden immunity idol but it is right under their noses.” There was also the little matter of the first few contestants coming back with their organs harvested. Oh well – live and learn.