In an apparent effort to shore up ratings, producers of American Idol on Wednesday unveiled a new element to the voting -- "the judges' save." As explained by host Ryan Seacrest during the show, up until the top five contestants are eliminated, all four judges can save one contestant from being eliminated. Their vote, he said, "has to be unanimous, and once they've used the save, they cannot use it again the entire season. The week they use the save, no one will be eliminated. But the next week, two will go." Seacrest's announcement was accompanied by a montage of "gone too soon" Idol contestants who went on to become hit recording stars. Seacrest said that the new rule doesn't necessarily reverse "America's vote" but simply gives worthy contestants a second chance. But Washington Post TV columnist Lisa de Moraes observed that each lowest vote-getter will now be singing the show's closing song as usual but this time hoping he or she will be saved by the judges. "It means the Idolette who gets the week's fewest votes gets to be humiliated twice in one night."

12/03/2009