Pia Toscano on Dancing With the Stars 'Is Not Unfair In Any Way,' Says Idol Exec

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.

‘Idoloonies': Jimmy Snubbed! Haley Redeemed! Stefano Reconsidered!
And Randy Silenced on American Idol!

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.

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55 Comments
  1. AJM says:

    I kinda want to see Pia as a contestant on DWTS next season. Maybe her or one of the other Idols — Naima, maybe?

  2. Alicia says:

    I think it’s great that Pia’s going to perform, although I could care less whether or not she’s “dating” Mark Ballas. She’s gonna rock it. This is just the beginning of a fantastic career for her.

    P.S. Slezak for Judge – Idol Season 11

  3. lucy95 says:

    He brought up a point that has become obvious to alot of fans. It really doesn’t matter whether or not you win anymore. Paul seems more than happy to be off the show. I just think people are eventually going to lose interest.

    • SharonM says:

      I agree. What’s to keep the audience interested in who wins if non-winners get all the breaks?

      • DL says:

        That’s not necessarily true. Obviously, Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood are quite successful. Fantasia and David Cook rate #5 and #7, respectively, on Wikipedia’s Idol total sales tally. Just because artists who don’t place first can end up being more successful than a given season’s winner doesn’t mean that the opposite can’t also be true.

    • Sharon says:

      I agree with lucy95. I liked Paul and Jacob the best this season but now Paul is gone just can’t stomach that show any longer. Judges are not doing their job. Randy wants to say more but producers won’t let him. He knows talent but ppl are listening to Steven and JLo not Randy. Let the judges really speak their minds. I think that only reason JLo took the judge job was because her movie flopped. Steven can’t sing like he used to so he needed a gig. Wish they had hired Adam Lambert and Kelly as judges and then they would have got real consructive criticism which they all need. Pia probably wouldn’t have been ousted.

      • Aunt Sassy says:

        OK, so the fact that Paul being gone has caused you to not be able to stomach the show says more about your level of taste than I am thinking you REALLY want people to know. And then to imply that Randy wants to say more – HA! LOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOL!!! You HONESTLY believe that? When has Randy EVER been able to string together a coherant thought let alone a valid, contructive critique? NEVER would be the answer you are looking for.

      • Suncatcher says:

        @SHARON – “STEVEN (TYLER) CAN’T SING LIKE HE USED TO AND SO HE NEEDED A GIG?????” WOW! What’s your source little songbird?

        – Steven Tyler just came off a successful WORLD tour with Aerosmith – last FALL – long before Idol.
        – He then was personally asked by Paul (The Beatles) McCartney to do the honors / sing from his song book at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts Annual Awards the first week of December; McCartney was being honored; Tyler ROCKED THE HOUSE full of entertainment stars & power figures – the President & Mrs. Obama & Oprah among them. He got a standing ovation. Google it. It’s everywhere.
        – He just “surprised” the Academy of Country & Western Music annual awards with an appearance/duet about 2 weeks ago with Carrie Underwood. The video went viral and has had more than 5 million views on YouTube – Google it too. “AMAZING.” Per Carrie, Underwood and Tyler first planned this – over 6 months ago.

        And THAT’s just the tip of the iceberg. STEVEN TYLER HAS NEVER BEEN HOTTER PROPERTY – BEFORE IDOL!

        Get your facts straight, please, before posting fiction and damaging someone’s reputation.

  4. Trisha says:

    The only reason Pia’s been on all the entertainment/interview shows is because she’s been invited. There hasn’t been a huge rush of email to all the shows requesting them to have her on. Her popularity and so-called celebrity is a result of media fabrication. Granted she has “a voice” but perhaps not one that will sell records, the only reason her ouster was shocking is because she wasn’t on anyone’s radar. Middle of the pack all the way until little tweens texted en masse for their fav boys and she came up the loser.

    As far as her being on DWTS, their so-called musical guests are second-rate at best, so let’s see what that does for her – odd to have her on when she has nothing to promote except center-parted hair and long legs. I’m convinced that it was a plot to pair Maks with Kirstie this year to keep Kirstie on and possible even win. I like her, and her attitude, but she’s ungainly and conventionally unattractive, and I hate to think she’s going all the way just so viewers can ogle Maks’s assets.

    • Mary says:

      Jealous much, Trisha? LOL

    • luke2 says:

      …”their so-called musical guests are second rate at best”… ?! You mustn’t watch DWTS much because they consistently have the best musical talent every week – All major labels want their stars on because the show has giant viewership and it promotes albums

      • Sharon says:

        I can’t agree with you on that one. DWTS does not always have first rate guests performing. I like the show but not always the contestants. At least the judges are more frank with contestants than on AI. Pia may get some hype from her performance but it’s not guaranteed. Pia will be fine without even being on DWTS.

    • laura says:

      I agree with Trisha. Obviously Pia didn’t have enough fans to vote her on, and according to idol execs she was always middle of the pack. I’ve kind of heard enough about her. How about we give our time and attention to the remaining contestants who continue to go through the grueling idol scheule week after week. In the past, it meant something to go on as long as possible. Why bother, if ousted contestants are getting all the attention, while the remaining contestants are busy day and night with rehearsals, recording, Ford commercials and whatever else they are needed to do to promote the show.

    • Another Trish says:

      What is the matter Mary? Because you don’t agree with the other Trisha you assume she is jealous? What a bunch of sour grapes you are….I am NOT jealous of Pia and I happen to agree with Trisha. It has nothing to do with jealousy and everything to do with the TRUTH! I guess that is something you have none of Mary?

    • duranmom says:

      Um, having Pia on is a plot to pair Kirstie with Maks so viewers (like me, thank you very much) can ogle Maks’ assets? First of all, I watch for the dancing, Maks’ ass(ets) — just a bonus. Second of all, Pia has NOTHING to do with Kirstie and Maks’ partnership on the show and the thing Pia is promoting is *herself*. She’ll be in the Idol tour this summer and will hopefully have a contract and subsequent album within the year. Whether she is in the beginning of her 15 minutes or start of a long career in music, you don’t turn down DWTS.

  5. Lucia says:

    It is true that some Idol winners have not become the stars that you would expect and some non-winners have shot to superstardom. Jennifer Hudson is an Oscar, Golden Globe, SAG and Grammy award winner. Daughtry is a bigger success than any of the three contestants who placed higher than him in his season. Adam Lambert and Kellie Pickler are also doing well. As far as I can tell, it doesn’t matter anymore where you place, as long as you are allowed to showcase your talents.

  6. lukas says:

    Second rate musical guests??? The show has seen the likes of Rascal Flatts, Michael Buble, Train, Taylor Swift, Leona Lewis, Jennifer Hudson, Santana, Daughtry, India Arie. Adele. This is not second rate.

    • Lukas says:

      This was a reply to Trisha’s comment above.

      • Suncatcher says:

        @Lukas – thanks, man. Trisha seems to know allllllll about the entertainment industry – strategies and actions. Wish I had her sources. Some of Trish’s knowing statements above:

        – “The only reason Pia’s been on all the entertainment/interview shows is because she’s been invited. There hasn’t been a huge rush of email to all the shows requesting them to have her on.”

        – “Granted she has “a voice” but perhaps not one that will sell records.”

        – “As far as her being on DWTS, their so-called musical guests are second-rate at best, so let’s see what that does for her.”

        – “…she has nothing to promote except center-parted hair and long legs.” (Meow).

        @Trisha – And your source(s) is/are? Better sources than TVLine?

  7. Diana says:

    All the finalists who have been kicked off have gone on to do late night TV on other networks, so why should this be any different other than time slot? If she wants to have a music career, she needs to capitalize on her exposure now. If she waits until she is out of contract with 19 to start making a career, she won’t have one because no one’s going to remember who she is.

    Oh, and Pia needs to dye her hair blonde before I’ll consider the dating Mark Ballas rumors.

  8. Entertainment2u-Twitter says:

    lucy95 is EXACTLY right.

    I quit on IDOL after last season — and that was a big reason. it does NOT matter who wins or loses these shows. no interest any longer.

    • Sharon says:

      I quit watching AI after S8 when Adam broke the show. It’s never been the same since. Many ppl feel same way. S9 was the most boring seasn in 10 years. Only decent show was Elvis week when contestants were mentored appropriately and many did much better than they did the entire season. Adam helped Lee, Crystal end up Top 2 because he give them conscructive critics not like this year. I starting watching S10 thinking the pool of talent was superior but have changed my mind.

      • Jason S says:

        You completely contradicted yourself. First you say you stopped watching after Season 8. Then you said the only decent show in Season nine was the Elvis show implying you watch every show in season nine. I’m calling you a liar. You’ve watched every episode since season 8 and will continue to watch every episode.

  9. Stacey says:

    I get his point. But I do think it does take away from the prestige of the winner if the 9th place finisher gets such a perk. When none of the others who eliminated will get it and the winner is overshadowed by someone who got eliminated so early. Whoever it is, I think it’s a bit unfair. I know IDOL has proven you don’t necessarily have to win. But it does bite the notion winning is the most important thing if the 9th place finished is being treated like the winner.

    Now if Lauren or Scotty are leading the vote tallies and they (the producers and Nigel) know this and because of it; Lauren or Scotty will head to country after the finale…so IDOL are desperate for someone to land in pop and do well. But I do think it’s underhanded and blow to the prestige of winning the contest.

    At least wait until the conclusion. Not while the season is still in progress.

    • Ian says:

      @Stacey: I think you’re overreacting. I don’t think it’s a big deal that Pia will be singing on DWTS. So what she came in 9th place? If DWTS wants her, we should be happy for her instead of thinking the whole thing is unfair. I really don’t understand where Christian charity has gone. Even if you’re not a Christian, Stacey, you should still be happy for Pia because it’s the decent thing to do. In any case, I predict Pia is going to be a BIG artist. With her exceptional voice and good looks, I wouldn’t be surprised if she goes the Jennifer Hudson route: she gets cast in a BIG musical film that lands her an Oscar and Grammy and subsequently becomes an even bigger recording artist.

      • SallyinChicago says:

        The proof in the pudding will be when she tours. Will she bring the house down or will the audience walk out on her?

      • LeSo says:

        I would love nothing more than to see Pia have an amazing musical career, but I struggle to believe that she could be successful in the acting arena. I was never put off by her personality on Idol, but she always seemed to be very shy and awkward anytime she was on stage but wasn’t singing. If she has any level of stage fright, I can’t imagine that she would pursue acting. But, I suppose that stranger things have happened! I wish her the best regardless!

  10. Greg says:

    Really? I thought Mark Ballas was gay!

  11. s_sullivan105@comcast.net says:

    I wish Pia the best but why is there so much hype surrounding an ousted contestant? Daughtry didn’t get anything like this and he was very talented. Pia will get a record contract if not already. DWTS isn’t even that great of a show afterall any show that has Chris Brown as a contestant is plain CRAZY. Chris has no credibility any longer. If she wants to perform on DWTS fine but why so much flailing. Btw she does not have a contract with Interscope that was a rumor. RCA owns her if they choose to sign her. I do agree that puting so much focus on Pia is taking away from other remaining contestants. Not fair to them at all. I don’t watch AI since S8 Adam broke the show now it’s just a huge 3 Ring Circus with Steven as the Ringmaster. He acts like a fool now.

    • Juju says:

      Chris Brown was not a contestant on DWTS. He performed on a results show.

    • Ian says:

      @s_sullivan105: I think you answered your own question. You said that Pia is still under contract with 19 Entertainment. Don’t you think it’s to their advantage to have Pia still in the limelight so when she is signed by 19 Entertainment for a record contract (which I am pretty sure will happen), she will sell more records? Do not think that 19 Entertainment is doing this only for Pia. 19 Entertainment is also doing it for themselves. They know what they’re doing. They know how to play the game. I think this is their way of marketing Pia now that she isn’t on AI anymore.

    • Can't Sleep says:

      Whether it’s fair or not – and I think it is fair – what gives Idol the right to deny her the opportunity to work! She is going to have a post Idol career, as well as all the others. I’m happy for her and hope she does well.

  12. imeveryman says:

    This is ridiculous! She should be given a choice, do DWTS or go on the AI summer tour, either one but not both.

    Clearly Idol is feeling heat from “The Voice,” which will be on next week opposite the DWTS results show. It’s purely staging to take away “The Voice,” viewers from its first show.

    • Marge says:

      @imeveryman- OMG, you are totally right. I didn’t realize. Good call!

    • music lady says:

      I agree — it is a ploy to get viewers away from The Voice. The producers of AI & DWTS are “friendly”. Folks, Pia is being USED but hey all the more power to her.

  13. Gary Haynes Sr says:

    I’m really glad Pia is performing on DWTS. I was afraid we wouldn’t see her on TV for quite a while. I don’t think her performing on that show now will have any effect on the remaining Idol contestants at all. The big ballads she loves and does so well fit in perfectly with the dancing on DWTS and are completely different from what the other contestants do on Idol. Mark and her being friends makes it cool that he will be the pro performing during the song. I have said all over Facebook and Twitter that she is already a star in my book!

  14. Zalle says:

    I am happy for her! The media has fabricated a lot of stories, but no one knows the real truth. I wish people would stop judging others, when truly, the real problem lies within themselves. It’s quite sad how jealously can affect people’s thoughts! Anyway, go Pia!

  15. Eurydice says:

    I have to laugh that producers are talking about “fairness” when it comes to any decision made in the entertainment business. Of course, it’s unfair for a loser to overshadow the potential winners, but who cares when ratings are involved? This way the two ratings juggernauts get to spread themselves across most of the week.

    And I expecially love the excuse that this is “fair” because it doesn’t matter who wins anyway. If this is true, which it seems that it is, then why all the commotion over Pia’s ouster? Why keep hyping it up as if it was a great travesty of justice? I know it’s for publicity reasons, but either the votes matter or they don’t. And if people get to believing the votes don’t matter, then the show won’t matter, either.

  16. Gable says:

    Like it or not, the fact that Pia and Mark are an ITEM had a lot to do with her appearance.

    If you don’t believe it, you must be living in a cave.

    Although Mark denied his influence, I want to tell him we are not STUPID, dude.

  17. SallyinChicago says:

    When I see Pia, I see Kat McPhee. Kat struggled over years to get above the Idol tag….she had failed records….failed concerts….she made a few late night TV shows…and then bingo, now she’s starring in the new NBC musical, Smash. But it took her like 5 years to get there. I see Pia the same as Kat. I don’t know who she is (to quote Simon)….she’s just not an engaging personality. What genre song will she sing? Will she be the younger SuBo…Pia already said she wants to sing with Andrea Bocelli(?) the opera singer…so maybe she’s the next Sara Brightman.

    I don’t see her doing Rhihanna or Lady Gaga or even Britney. Just don’t see it.

  18. Christina says:

    So if the producers don’t see Pia as direct competition does that mean they will let her record a single and get it out ASAP?

  19. Tatiana says:

    Good for her!!! I do not think it is unfair in anyway. People need to realize it’s all a business. Who do you think leaked the Pia is going to be signed by Interscope news? 19 knows what they are doing. They have every intention of signing Pia and they know that they have to keep her in the limelight. It is all publicity. Scotty will be the winner, he will do just fine in the country genre. Pia will undoubtedly have a chance to be a success in a R&B /pop genre. The girl does have the vocal chops, it’s just a matter of fine tuning her performance which I am sure she will work on.

  20. Pia is a user says:

    Pia is a user. She is using Mark Ballas to get publicity and to get into guesting at Dancing with the stars. She broke up with her boyfriend so she can be available to influential men who she can use to get to the top. Who did she use to get around Fox? Pia will be sleeping her way to the top. Let’s see what she will do next to keep her publicity.

    • GSOgymrat says:

      Wow, what a bitter post. I think that indicates the content of your character rather than Pia’s. I don’t watch DWTS but I will record that episode, so I guess The Powers That Be gambit worked.

    • say what? says:

      First, it wasn’t Pia’s decision to be on DWTS, she was invited by the DWTS producer. Second, not her decision either to use Mark Ballas or anyone else, these dancers are picked by the DWTS producers themselves. HELLLLLLLLLO, anybody THERE!?!?!?! I don’t favour Pia thhhhat much, but man…you have got some “judging” attitude problem in your soul. At least Pia is talented, beautiful, now rich and famous…and you??? Hmmm, better be careful what you say, cuz i bet you ain’t perfect…inside and out!

    • dandansoy says:

      bitter person, never last more than 40 years on earth…if you’re over 40, then you’re a ghost from hell.

  21. L says:

    I’ll watch Pia in DWTS. I loved her voice and have no interest in the rest of the contestants on AI this year.

    • dandansoy says:

      yup, interest went down the hill for me too. What was/is America thinkin? Pia is much much mmmuch more talented than the remaining two girls. Jacob should have been outa there long time ago (he’s too over acting/dramatic for a guy… or gay?) And whyyyyy did it take thhhhat long for Thia to get voted out? mannn, she shouldn’t have been in the top 20 to begin with…painful to watch her trying to fit in. Anyway…bet there will be lots of ppl tuning in on DWTS cuz of Pia…good for her!

  22. kim says:

    To me, its all “business”. If Pia wants to perform on DWTS (and is allowed)why not. She may as well keep herself “out there” so-to-speak. And, as stated just because your “crowned” the AI Winner doesn’t guarantee success. So, it seems like 19 Entertainment is not putting all their eggs in one basket. Whoever is really talented will surface to the top and continue on and as we all can see from the previous years of Idol that certainly doesn’t mean the “Winner”.

  23. Nathalie says:

    I agree with you, Kim. She should be allowed to work. She is very popular. There is a website call Piafans.net opened 6 weeks ago that has over 700 members dedicated to her with people that truly love her. She has more twitter followers than any of the contestant left. In all the polls before her elimination, she was leading. The Idol audience literally boos and stood still after her elimination. When she went to New York, crowd of people wanting her autographs had to be moved so she could walk. A savepia petition which I sign along with thousands of fans was sent to Idol asking to bring Pia back. Now, this has never happen in Idol history. So, there is merit to think she deserve a shot at capitalizing on this new found fame. So, I agree with Ken what is the point on holding her up. Isn’t that what they want to find the next star? It is like saying the Heisman trophy winner should be the first one drafted. What make you American Idol winner has nothing to do with being a great recording artist. Luck, drama, looks, talent and being at the right place at the right time is very important. Ask Jennifer Hudson, if she did not auditioned for Dreamgirls, if the drama that went in her life, losing 80 pounds did not happened, would she be where she at now. She is very talented but having a fame moment is important to become a star. So, Pia is having that same moment right now: being eliminated early, her voice, her looks, her relationship with Mark is her moment to shine. She waited 6 years for this moment. So why stop her?

  24. houster says:

    Its a little disconcerting to me that she has apparently dumped her loyal NY boyfriend of four years now that she has a shot at stardom. Also, telling Richard Johnson of the daily.com that she’d like to have her own fragrance and cosmetics line — she has to be careful about stuff like that, because that sounds like the insta-fame has gone to her head, that a music career is just a means to an end of being rich and famous. Imagine an NBA team before the playoffs start planning a championship celebrating ticker-tape parade. Despite everything, Pia has no recording contract yet, and hasn’t really accomplished squat.

    Also, a caveat about Jennifer Hudson. The producers of “Dreamgirls” auditioned about 800 women for the role of “Effie.” Including Tamyra Gray, Kimberley Locke, and Fantasia Barrino. J Hud had name recognition from Idol, but she had to beat out all those 800 women. She wasn’t just handed the role.

    Still, it makes sense for Pia to do what she can to stay in the limelight. If she’s careful and plays her cards right, and works on her stage presence and “connecting” skills on the Idol tour, with those looks and that voice, she has a shot at a good career. As far as I’m concerned, the voice conveyed all the emotion necessary, but a lot of people are not sold yet, and I have to respect that viewpoint.

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