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TV or not TV
Scott D. Pierce
Scott D. Pierce writes about television for the Salt Lake Tribune. Vice president of the Television Critics Associationn, he's covered TV in Utah since 1990.

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AMERICAN IDOL: Logo 2009. CR: FOX
With unnecessary cruelty, ‘Idol’ eliminates both Utah teens

Both Utah teenagers who made it to the top 30 on "American Idol" were eliminated on Tuesday night in a truly terrible twist on the Fox singing competition.

To be clear, this is not a complaint that Park City’s Austin Wolfe and Draper’s Kenzie Hall are out. Both are clearly talented singers, but the "Idol" judges are there to make decisions about who goes on and who does not. And I am not complaining about the decisions made by Harry Connick Jr., Jennifer Lopez and Keith Urban.

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The problem was with the format of the show, which was unnecessarily cruel and rather idiotic. And not just because it was called "Rush Week" in a lame attempt to somehow equate it to college fraternities and sororities.

Here’s what happened:

• Last week, the 15 female singers were told they had advanced to the next round of the competition. They were, understandably, overjoyed.

• It was a callous lie for a third of them, however. On Tuesday, the 15 young women were placed in a room, and 10 of them were called out one-by-one to perform.

• Those 10, along with 10 of the 15 remaining young men who will perform on Wednesday night, have a shot at making the top 13. Ten will be voted in by viewers; three will be selected by the judges.

• The five who were not called - including Hall and Wolfe - were left sitting there, looking understandably sad.

This was the first major misstep by the new producers of "American Idol." It was not good TV, unless, perhaps, you’re a sadist. Not only was it cruel, but it basically violated the trust of the fans.

Viewers were told that all 15 female contestants were through to the next round. Not true.

Better to have just sent them home rather than raise false hopes.

To my great surprise, this season of "American Idol" had been surprisingly watchable. And that had absolutely nothing to do with the fact that Utahns were among the top 30.

But what’s going on this week has turned me off to "Idol" once again. This was more heartless than anything Simon Cowell ever said.

And watching teenangers suffering through unnecessary emotional torture is not my idea of entertainment.



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