“Idol” Producer Claims That Show Revealed Carly Smithson’s Past Life As Carly Hennessy

noah | February 15, 2008 4:30 am

American Idol producer Nigel Lythgoe had his weekly show-related conference call with reporters today, and in it he touched on the controversy surrounding Carly Hennessy/Smithson, a former major-label signee who was the subject of a Wall Street Journal profile about the record industry’s excesses a few years back. And not only did he lie about whether or not Idol fessed up to her big-budget past (he claims it did; it didn’t), he got kind of irritable over even being questioned about the whole thing! Since I don’t get invited on these conference calls, I’ll hand it over to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution‘s Rodney Ho:

Nigel also incorrectly insisted that “Idol” had revealed Carly Smithson’s past with MCA Records. He was wrong. But he got rather testy when a reporter challenged him on it. The show did reveal her past visa problems so he might have simply forgotten. He said he wasn’t hiding people’s pasts at all, though “Idol” has conveniently left out record contract deals. Did they mention Joanne’s win on Monique’s Fat Chance or David Archuleta’s “Star Search” win? I can’t recall myself.*

He also downplayed the potential backlash Carly is getting on the blogs for her failed time at MCA, saying that most people who vote don’t read the blogs and boards. And since “Idol” isn’t saying anything on air about it, indeed, it probably won’t matter. He did get quite testy over this line of questioning. Credit the wonderful Star Ledger writer Alan Sepinwall. I emailed Sepinwall and he merely wanted to know (before he got cut off) if they were going to mention their past recording contracts sometime in the future.

“Most people who vote don’t read the blogs and boards!” Looks like the Idol producers are going the “treating the viewing public like they’re idiots” route, which is a shame. (Also: If that was the case, why didn’t the Idol powers that be make more of an effort to sign Sanjaya Malakar last year? After all, he did have a fanbase who called in for him week after week, and if they weren’t reading blogs and boards, they may have actually liked him…)

2/15: Nigel Lythgoe says 60s theme next wk, defends Carly Smithson [American Idol Buzz]

*Those shows weren’t mentioned during the program, either; neither was Syesha Mercado’s appearance on the short-lived ABC reality show The One, although that was canceled after two episodes, so maybe it doesn’t really count. The only other reality-show appearances that I recall being mentioned were people who had been on Idol before and that poor auditioner who was on American Juniors way back when and who wasn’t as bad as the show’s producers desperately wanted her to seem.