[4 April 2007]
New York Daily News (MCT)
The impact of the Internet and radio hype about keeping Sanjaya Malakar alive on “American Idol” is overblown, according to the show’s executive producer, Ken Warwick, who doesn’t expect Malakar to be around when the show ends next month.
“There is very little hype anybody can do to affect the vast numbers of votes we get,” Warwick said Tuesday.
Since the show launched, Malakar has been a flash point for media coverage - and what may or may not be keeping him on the show.
Howard Stern and the Web site votefortheworst.com have pushed keeping Malakar because they think he’s not good enough and want to make a mockery of the competition.
But Warwick said that if all of Stern’s listeners voted - or any other radio campaign started - it wouldn’t make up the difference that Malakar has over the people below him, or above him, in the weekly call rankings.
The show, however, does not reveal actual vote counts.
Warwick also said there were mechanisms in place to stop or identify electronic voting - and that technology has yet to spot a problem. Likewise, the show has the ability to trace each of the 40 million calls logged each week.
“Say what you want about Sanjaya, he hasn’t a bad voice,” Warwick said, noting the singer changes his look each week and sparks chatter the next day.
“Personally, I don’t expect him to be there in the end,” Warwick said. “But it’s not up to me, it’s up to the public.”
Recently, judge Simon Cowell said if Malakar won, he would quit.
But Warwick said that Cowell couldn’t contractually take leave over the show’s outcome, adding that the comment was Cowell making a “press point.”
Warwick did say, though, that Cowell had been too harsh on Haley Scarnato, whose name Cowell said he couldn’t remember a few weeks ago.
“She’s a good-looking kid, she has a really good voice,” Warwick said. “I think she was given a really bad rap by Simon.”
Meanwhile, Warwick isn’t upset with the press Malakar’s role has generated.
“The fact of the matter is,” he said, “if someone on the show is getting attention, it really doesn’t bother me. He’s still there, and a lot about this business is keeping people interested.”