music, technology & life in pasadena, california

False Idols

American Idol, that sad modern bastion of television ratings and mediocrity, sank to a new low recently. As the show started broadcasting reruns of previous seasons on syndicated channels, they decided to replace the tracks of the live in-house band with a sequenced electronic score in order to save money and bypass reuse payments to the musicians originally playing on the show, contrary to the contract they signed when engaging the players.

In this time of incessant cutbacks even among the most profitable of ventures, it still amazes me that a show dedicated to finding new talent promoting live performances with a live orchestra would decide to do a hack job on its own product. That it is the biggest moneymaker on television and the reuse fees are a pittance in relation what the show brings in doubly amazes and boggles the mind.

The musician’s union threatened to sue for breach of contract and after a standoff, a settlement was reached and the players received their payment.

I guess I shouldn’t be so surprised by the gall of the show that NPR describes as, “…the untalented judging the over-reaching.”

September 9, 2008 | Link to this entry


Paul Viapiano is a guitarist working in film, television and live performance based in sunny Pasadena, California.

You can email me here.

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