American Idol 8: Producers Stick with Results Despite Controversy
Within the past twenty-four hours or so, it felt like a wildfire on American Idol soil.  There's news that AT&T, the company that allowed text votes for the show's past few seasons, may have influenced this year's votes towards Kris Allen.  And then there's the reaction, from disgruntled Adam Lambert fans, to disgruntled (and weary) fans altogether.  More fuel to the flame?  I guess, but I think it'll die down again, and the rest delegated to, uhh, urban legend.

Idol producers, as well as Fox executives, issued a statement insisting that last week's final vote was not unfairly influenced by what some AT&T employees did in Kris Allen parties held in Arkansas, when they allegedly supplied free text messaging services for fans to be able to vote for him, as well as teaching how to send "power texts", or multiple messages through one send, which is expressly disallowed by the show.

"Fox and the producers of American Idol are absolutely certain that the results of this competition are fair, accurate and verified," the joint statement said.  "Kris Allen is, without a doubt, the American Idol.  We have an independent third-party monitoring procedure in place to ensure the integrity of the voting process.  In no way did any individuals unfairly influence the outcome of the competition."

The network also insisted that the efforts in Arkansas wouldn't have made a dent on the final tally.  With a hundred million votes put in, the amount of power texts possibly sent from the parties would've amounted to less than a percent of the votes cast.

AT&T also released a statement, saying they did not have a hand at the offers and lessons.  It was, according to them, the initiative of a "few local AT&T employees" who were "caught up in the enthusiasm of rooting for their hometown contestant."  The company promised that they will make sure this line won't be crossed again: "Going forward, we will make sure our employees understand our sponsorship celebrates the competition, not individual contestants."

Maybe you're thinking, why shouldn't Fox instead release the final results so that most, if not all, questions can be answered?  The network says it has to keep the details secret so that no viewer would be able to game the system--apart from, of course, the drama this brings.  And it seems they'll hold fort: a spokesperson said that they will not give further comment beyond the statement they issued.

-Henrik Batallones, BuddyTV Staff Columnist
Sources: The New York Times, Los Angeles Times
(Image courtesy of Fox)