American Idol fans tuning into this week’s Dancing With the Stars results show got a surprising bit of news: Idol‘s recently (and shockingly) booted finalist Pia Toscano will perform a song on the ABC series’ April 26 results show, as her rumored beau, DWTS pro Mark Ballas, get his boogie on with Karina Smirnoff.
Idol executive producer Ken Warwick said during a Wednesday conference call with reportersthat when DWTS approached Idol brass about booking Pia, he saw no reason to turn ’em down — despite the fact that the reality ratings behemoths air on competing networks. In fact, his personal and professional relationship with DWTS producer Conrad Green (they previously worked together on World Idol) made it an easy decision to greenlight the guest spot.
Asked if he had any concerns that Pia’s current media blitz might take the focus away from Idol‘s remaining contestants — and decrease viewer interest in who’s crowned the Season 10 champ — Warwick cited that it would be “unfair to hold someone back just so we can promote someone else.”
He added that “in the old days,” Idol execs were cautious not to let ousted singers overshadow potential champs. But as seasons have progressed and it’s become clear that the eventual star graduate isn’t always the Idol winner, that’s become less of a concern. Plus, Pia’s niche as a singer of “big power ballads” makes her so different from the remaining seven vocalists that Warwick doesn’t necessarily view her as their direct competition in the post-Idol arena.
“Why shouldn’t she be [on DWTS]?” asked Warwick. “It’s not unfair in any way.”
Season 6 finalist Melinda Doolittle agreed with Warwick’s position. “It doesn’t bother me in the least to see Pia get that opportunity,” she said. “And actually, had it happened in my season that they hooked up [ninth-place finisher] Gina Glocksen with a Dancing With the Stars guest spot, I would’ve been thrilled.”
Doolittle added that strategically, it’s “genius” for Idol execs to start “vetting the eliminated contestants [in the real world] while they still have them under contract.” She joked that she wished she’d had a similar opportunity during her season of Idol — particularly if Hines Ward had been a contestant. “I still haven’t recovered from his paso,” she added with a laugh.
Warwick said he believes Pia “went [home] at the wrong time” and that her media ubiquitousness since her elimination reflects the fact that “people believe an injustice was done, I guess.”
“I sincerely hope she makes it,” he added.
Warwick also addressed the fact that in Season 10, with superstar producers guiding the Idols’ performances, viewers have yet to witness a radical rearrangement of a popular song, in the vein of Kris Allen’s “Heartless,” Adam Lambert’s “Ring of Fire,” or David Cook’s “Hello.” While conceding that there may be “too many masters” and “not an awful lot of time” to generate these types of stunning “Idol Moments,” Warwick said he suspects we’ll get to see a few of them later in the season. Radical rearrangement of a popular tune can be “very dangerous unless you are very good,” he added. “I always encourage it — provided the kid singing it is confident and happy with it.”
What do you think of Pia performing on DWTS? Do you have any issues with her potentially overshadowing the remaining Idols, or do you think the good folks at 19 are wise to get a head start on marketing the golden-voiced diva? Check out our video exit interview with Pia below, then head to the comments to share your thoughts. And for all my Idol news and commentary, follow me on Twitter @MichaelSlezakTV.