Is 'American Idol' Throwing Pia Toscano Under the Bus?

by Hilary Rothing, posted Apr 12th 2011 1:30PM
We've still got a Top 8 to cut down before the next 'American Idol' is crowned but many fans and critics have shifted their focus to the one contestant who won't be in the running: Pia Toscano.

After Toscano's jaw-dropping elimination last week, 'Idol' producers have been running damage control, playing down Pia's perceived standing as a "front-runner" this season and possibly blocking any attempts for a record label to sign Toscano and drop a hit before the season even ends.

PopEater's Rob Shuter
reported yesterday that Interscope Records (of which Jimmy Iovine is the chairman) is champing at the bit to get Pia signed on and in the studio recording, obviously to capitalize on the buzz/outrage over her elimination.
But like every 'Idol' contestant, Toscano is all but owned by 19 Entertainment, meaning they have first dibs at a recording contract with the very talented vocalist.

An "'Idol' insider" made an excellent point to Shuter: "No way do the producers want a contestant who was kicked off having a hit record when the winner hasn't even been announced yet. The first hit song has always been from the winner and this year will be no different."

But Pia Toscano / Interscope Records one-upping 'American Idol' is only part of the mess the show has faced in the aftermath of Toscano's elimination.

Putting aside the outcries of rigged results, lazy judging and a teenybopper conspiracy from everyone to your average diehard fans to A-list celebrities, the show's integrity as a "singing competition" is clearly in question, after a result like Toscano's.

It's always been understood that while 'Idol' is a talent competition, it's also a popularity contest, with a female-skewing votership. But that's where the judging has been key. Without cues from the judges on whom to vote early/often for, particularly when a favorite is in peril, viewers may take for granted a "front-runner" like Pia is safe.

But just hold on a second. Who said Pia was a "front-runner"? Nigel Lythgoe set the record straight on Pia's standing, in terms of votes.

"I know the [voting] results, so I know she was never a front-runner," Lythgoe told Reality Rocks.

However, in terms of votes, that may be the fact, but in the minds of viewers, that doesn't seem to be the case. Yes, they didn't vote Pia Toscano, but perhaps that's because her consistent performances and constant praise from the judges assured fans she'd be safe for some time. With no real criticism leveled at the contestants, fans aren't being prompted to save/vote for their favorite.

But Lythgoe had more to say, along those lines: "The fact of the matter is, it appears that Pia didn't connect with the audience the way we maybe think she did."

He did however, admit that the show's rules may need an upgrade, after 10 years: "Maybe if we change the rules next season, maybe do the same thing we do on 'So You Think You Can Dance' ... so that America votes for the bottom three, and then the judges decide who goes home ... I think that will be thought about."

If the change comes, it'll be a season too late for Pia Toscano, but what of her immediate future?

An Interscope spokesperson quelled the record deal talk, stating, "This Pia thing is all just a rumor," but as Idol Chatter's Brian Mansfield astutely points out, Interscope's parent company, Universal Music Group has first rights of refusal on all the contestants, well after the competition is over. And like fellow ousted 'Idol' and fan favorite, Chris Medina, they could move to have Pia release music sooner than later, riding the tide of her shocking elimination.

Either way, Pia Toscano's elimination has put a laser focus on 'Idol's' voting and judging process, this season. And though last week's results show made for "good TV," whether it's good for 'Idol' and the show's contestants, remains in question.

'American Idol' airs Wednesdays and Thursdays at 8PM ET on FOX.

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One additional thing: alot of good comments about the voting issue. It, to me, is crazy that people can vote UNLIMITED times on the phone for 2 hours on as many phones as they have, and also text and vote online. When I vote, it is on the phone, and unlike previous years, I get in consistency, instead of those constant busy signals of the past. So, let's look at who is most likely to text and vote online - probably teens, nothing personal toward anyone, but others most likely would do the easy thing, vote by phone. Most people I know in the 30-80 range won't vote for 2 hours straight, unlike the younger generation. Yet ALL these ages have the buying power to purchase CD's and the right to chose America's Idol. Then, we get our winner, and if a small portion of the population (teens, for example) got in mega votes to chose our winner, it doesn't represent America's choice and CD sales will not be what is expected. The ONLY answer is to limit votes, period, to make it representative of America and who the true Idol should be. Idol prides itself on 53 million votes or whatever Ryan shares with us with great pride were the vote counts for the week. But it doesn't really matter. What matters is who America wants as their Idol (teens and those of all ages, male and female). Those 5 votes my 80 year old mother puts in for Scotty or the 50 I might put in for Stefano (who is totally underated!!) should count just as much as the 500 a teen may put in for Casey. Each one of us will buy a CD - one teen won't buy 500 CDs to match their 500 votes lol. Why doesn't Idol get it? Voting shoudl be 50 votes per method, period, or something close. It is time to change this system, when every other show is smart enough to know to limit the votes. It will help Idol in the long run.

April 17 2011 at 2:58 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

Pia was beautiful, and stylish with a strong voice. She looked the part and sounded the part of a singer, but was not fully developed as a "personality" who could be a star. Many people, of different ages and backgrounds felt that she was conceited and thought she deserved praise. That may not be who she is, but that is how she comes across, and she needs to work on that. Humility, authenticity, and humor come across very well on Idol and have been that extra thing that have catapulted a contestant to the win. A few things that back up what I am saying about how her image came across: when they moved the contestants out of the mansion because some of them complained about the water leaks and that the house was haunted, they showed Pia saying, "I'm not going to unpack all the way because you never know if they are going to have to move is AGAIN". Came across divaish even if she didn't mean to. She was lucky to be there regardless of where they put her up. In an interview, she showed no sign of letting her hair down, no humor, all serious, nothing engaging or interesting. She has a hard time showing vulnerability. She won't even be honest about the Mark Ballas thing, whereas Paul McDonald, just recently happily conveyed he is officially dating a Twilight star (don't know her name). Paul was open and enthusiastic, making humor. Why can't Pia just be real? She is so guarded, and that is going to hurt her. We have to be able to relate to SOMETHING about her. A writer in the audience of the show one night said the whole cast was laughing and dancing on stage after the show and Pia didn't participate - someone pulled her out to dance and she went to the back again shortly after. What is her issue? For her sake, I hope she can let her hair down, show some authenticity and humility. She also mentioned in her interview how much she "practiced" to get to where she is. That's great, but practicing her singer is not enough to make her a star that could reach her full potential and engage with her fans. And I hope she isn't using Mark for fame or to teach her some dance moves. He is quite the choreographer. Hate when people use others, though of course, we know it happens all the time! Good luck, Pia.

April 17 2011 at 2:43 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

AI is such the popularity contest. Too many people don't get it. Idol is billed as and promoted to be a talent show. Sadly, it never was. Many talented performers have come and gone and too many overstayed their talents while other more talented performers waited for the tour to start.

No one in the top 10, or wild carded 12+ gets voted off! Maybe, that's how it should be! The votes are to keep the favored performers. It has nothing to do with talent, as many could have been questionable selections for the top grouping. To reinforce this, look back to AI6 and you'll be reminded of Sanjaya Malakar and his lack of talent forced on us by teeny boppers and This is what has fouled a good idea and process.

April 15 2011 at 9:06 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Idol should only allow you to vote only once for each idol singer that you want to vote for. Fifty times to vote is just to much.

April 15 2011 at 12:35 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to eekenney1's comment

not to mention AT&T Customers can text unlimited until voting stops that's 2hrs plus the 50 times online I agree with you totally very unfair voting system for all contestants

April 16 2011 at 4:47 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

PIA was a good singer ,but not the best. Remember people, america voted to get rid of her not the Idol show. I really hate to see Paul McDonald go. he was a great singer also. But everyone can't win. Remember there is only one of them who can win.

April 15 2011 at 12:16 AM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to eekenney1's comment

Pia was the best singer there,america didn't send her home an unfair voting system did,I can't beleive nobody gets it ,let me break it down for you IF YOU HAVE AT&T YOU CAN TEXT YOUR VOTE UNLIMITED TIMES UNTILL VOTING CLOSES THAT'S 2 HOURS & INBETWEEN BUSY SIGNALS YOU CAN VOTE VIA NET FOR AN ADDITIONAL 50 TIMES BEFORE THE 51ST VOTE DON'T COUNT WHY CAN'T PEOPLE VOTE FOR WHO THEY THINK IS BETTER ONE TIME, HOW IS MULTIPLE VOTES FAIR ,& EVEN IF YOU THINK SHE WASN'T THE BEST SHE NEVER SHOULD HAVE WENT HOME THIS EARLY,SHOULD BE VOTE ONCE PER NAME ON AN E-MAIL ADDRESS OR TEXT & IF YOU TRY & SNEEK A 2ND VOTE OR TEXT IN BOTH ARE DISQUALIFIED.AI VOTING SYSTEM IS UNFAIR FAVORS AT&T CUSTOMERS ALSO VOTE VIA NET FOR AN ADDITIONAL 50 TIMES BEFORE THE 51ST VOTE DON'T COUNT HOW NICE OF THEM,now what I see on the net AI will try & block anyone from givining her a recording contract so she don't have a hit before the winner is chosen ,they have egg all over thier faces @ AI now it's damage controll I might watch AI again providing they fix the voting system

April 16 2011 at 3:27 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply

How is Paul still on the show!!!!!!!!!!

April 14 2011 at 7:57 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Bob Auscherman

What Idol must do and do it to not allow the teenie boppers to send so many votes for their choice of madness. Restict the voting to so many votes on their cell phones and etc...

April 14 2011 at 6:36 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply


April 14 2011 at 3:17 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to anna's comment

when they fix voting system to be fair I may watch again if you can vote 50 times online b4 the 51st vote don't count somethings wrong also if you have AT&T you can text your vote unlimited times untill voting closes that's 2hrs that's real fair yeah right & if I do as you suggest pick another it's still the same CROOKED voting system

April 16 2011 at 3:42 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

She clearly was the front runner. Her voice is equivalent to Celine, Whitney, and Striesand. The girl can sing and she will be up there as a Diva someday. She is beautiful. I don't care about the American vote I think Idol made a mistake. The judges didn't do their job. Mary Ann

April 14 2011 at 10:25 AM Report abuse +4 rate up rate down Reply

I know PIA through mutual friends and she is not emotionless or unaffected. She has worked extremley hard to get to where she is now. whether or not she was a "front runner" the point is that Pia has the talent to win american idol.. she deserved to be in the finale. Ane her elimination just proves that the voting system of Idol needs to be changed. Pia will do well no matter what and the love and support she is getting from her loved ones will push her to the top. She is a beautilful and warm person -- and most importantly she could sing her ass off /// love you pee ;)

April 13 2011 at 12:48 PM Report abuse +5 rate up rate down Reply

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