In a new interview, producer/showrunner Nigel Lythgoe says that he wasn’t all that shocked over her elimination because she didn’t receive the number of votes the frontrunners were getting.
“I know the [voting] results, so I know she was never a frontrunner,” revealed Nigel, adding: “The fact of the matter is, it appears that Pia didn’t connect with the audience the way we maybe think she did.”
The interesting thing is, Pia was portrayed as a frontrunner in the results shows, being sent back to the couch very early each episode and being told she was in the tour in the first group with Scotty and Lauren. This fostered the illusion that she was a lock for at least the top 5 when, as Nigel implies, she was in the middle third of vote getters instead. So it looks like they may have manipulated the results shows to set up Pia as a shock boot. If they really wanted to boost her support, they could have made it look like she just avoided the bottom three. Instead, it appeared that she was skating by without a sweat week after week until the hammer fell.
BTW, don’t feel too bad for Pia — she got signed by Interscope records the day after.
Nigel answered questions about the voting situation as well:
Addressing feedback from fans that the elimination process should be changed so that these sorts of results don’t happen anymore, Nigel pooh-poohed the possibility of limiting the number of times each fan can vote, but did say: “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.”
Having the judges choose who goes home is kind of like having a judges’ save every week. And the shocking eliminations that are a staple of Idol results shows would be a thing of the past. Changing the way votes are cast would be a more effective solution, but they love anouncing how many votes were cast because the numbers they throw around impart the illusion that more people are watching then there really are. As viewership declines every year, opening up voting to sources like the internet are needed to collect ever increasing vote totals.
There is some fine print in the credits that the producers have the authority to discount “power dialing votes”.
In season 7, Nigel’s last season before he returned, he admitted that they had never exercised the option. I don’t think they want to pull on that loose thread because the entire voting system would unravel. I think if they capped the voting, the totals would decline so sharply it would prove how power voting had completely taken over the show.