American Idol, as always, is itching for a fight and I'm not talking about the type started by Simon Cowell last week when he got snippy about Ryan "Step on Me" Seacrest's star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. (Simon reportedly said: "[The star] is ill-deserved. I cannot believe April 20 is going to be Ryan Seacrest Day. I am officially taking this day off my diary. Other people doing well just naturally makes me unhappy. I am officially taking this day off my diary.")
And I'm not really talking about the inter-network rivalry, what with the May 25th broadcast sked including (1) the coronation of the next American Idol; (2) the double-length season finale of ABC's hit Lost; and (3) CBS's attempt to get any attention at all (and shed its rap as "the geezer network") by capitalizing on capital murder with the made-for-TV-movie, Amber Frey: Witness for the Prosecution.
As Tom Jicha, TV/Radio writer for the Orlando (Fl.) Sun-Sentinel reports, May 25, 2005 may become regarded as one of the most "recklessly scorched-earth scheduling" showdowns since February 11, 1979, when Gone With the Wind, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest and the TV movie Elvis faced off. (Elvis, in another huge triumph for pop music, won.)
American Idol already is the 500-lbs. gorilla of the airwaves (for you international fans, there's a famous American joke that goes like this: Q: Where does a 500-lbs. gorrilla sit? A. Anywhere he wants.)
The show is such a gorilla that last week, when NBC's "Revelations" was deemed to have "held its own" next to American Idol, this was called "positive ratings news."
The NBC miniseries bowed at 15.6 million viewers, making it the most-watched NBC offering to go up against AI since a 2002 NBA finals game (an entry the NBC creative development team could hardly take credit for). Wow, no wonder you could hear the high-fives and corks popping at the NBC executive suites.
Not since Clay Aiken lost to Ruben Studdard has failing to cop the top spot been viewed so favorably.
The real smackdown American Idol is looking for now is one that will transform May 25th from "must see" tv for AI fans to mega-buzz night that draws in new non-AI viewers like zillions of gnats to a bright light.