(Back) On the Scene: An 'Idol' alumnus' no-holds-barred take

Jonpeterlewis_lWhat’s it like to be a part of American Idol’s studio audience as an alumnus? EW.com contributor and former contestant Jon Peter Lewis, who returned to Stage 36 for last night’s elimination show, reflects on how the show’s changed since he rocked Elvis’ "A Little Less Conversation" on season three, and ponders where it’s headed.

Did you see me Wednesday night? There I was, seated next to Chicken Little (a.k.a. Kevin Covais) catching up on the good old days… kind of. He’s not really the talkative kind. But what he did have to say captured my attention completely. Somewhere in the ordinary getting-to-know-you chit-chat, Kevin mentioned that he’s working on a movie at MGM studios. I think that’s cool and he seemed really excited about it. I mean, he said MGM, like, 12 times in one minute. I think he’s got a really good look for film. He could totally play the beta male roles. The story only got better and more disturbing from there, though. He started talking about how he recently moved in with Ace Young and then mentioned something about picking up Ace’s womanizing leftovers? Yikes! Now that’s a movie script waiting to be written.

All in all, it was fun to be back on the American Idol setand see a lot of familiar faces. I think I talked with Simon more lastnight than my entire time on the show. He said I looked healthy and Isuppose that’s high praise coming from someone who’s sparing on hiscomplements. I spoke with Randy and Paula too and, you know, the wholething reminded me of a class reunion, except without the graduatingclass and a lot of more expensive upgrades to the school. It’s amazinghow little they got away with spending on my season. I mean, our stagewas half the size and we didn’t get a band. Don’t think I’mcomplaining, though. Not really. I’m only having slight pangs ofjealousy.

Speaking of which, the Neil is gonna be on the show, and that’spretty awesome, but I’m still not sure about how I feel about all theperipheral stuff they cram into an episode these days. I mean, it’sstarting to become a variety show and that’s much less endearing thanwatching a Cinderella story. It’s really easy to get lost in it all.There’s the mentors, and they have to promote their new projects, thesponsors who have to have their Ford commercials and iPhone plugs,let’s not forget about Kellie Pickler, who’s pimping out her not-so-newrecord, and, of course, Idol Gives Back, which I can’t decide if I love or hate since Idolseems to get a lot more back than it gives. Is it getting to the pointwhere it’s just one big commercial? Or has it always been that way?What do you all think?   

Comments (34 total) Add your comment
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  • Suzanne

    What a great writer you are! Honestly, I didn’t vote for you that season–I voted for LaToya London and then stopped voting after she left–but i will never miss one of your popwatch blogs. Good on EW for hiring you.
    It’s so completely commercial. Our family loves the singers, so we watch, but the show is twice as long as would be entertaining with all the plugs. And it’s so many millions that AI pulls in–and everyone else mooching off the singers. I mean–how much did you make on tour vs. the producers, vendors, and scalpers. It’s amazing what people will pay for! (No disrespect, I just think that paying more for a seat at a concert than the face price of the ticket is insane because it creates crime.)
    Great blogs. Will keep reading.

  • Em

    I have only watched one season of American Idol all the way through (it was season three, by the way). I’ve tried to watch other seasons, but I get frustrated, because it’s gotten so bloated with all the adverts and the guest spots and this and that. And yeah, I’m going to say it- I get nauseated everytime I see Seacrest’s smarmy smile. Idol was never quality tv, but it’s even worse now.

  • Mags

    I have one problem with this blog entry- it should be “compliments” in the context in which the word is used, not “complements”. Different spellings, different meanings.
    I know, I know, I’m a nitpicker. I can’t help it.

  • Lori

    Mr. Lewis,
    Have you ever heard of discretion? If you ever want a celebrity (or quasi-celebrity) to talk to you again, you may want to think about how you portray them. It’s one thing when a celeb talks to someone from Access Hollywood and knows their comments will become public fodder. It’s quite another when a newbie talks to a fellow alum and ends up seeing himself portrayed publicly as pathetic. Have a heart. And be a mensch.

  • Nix

    Discretion? On an blog? On Entertaintment Weekly? About American Idol? What else would we talk about? It’s not as if there’s any musicianship to consider.

  • StaleCake

    I never understood Idol Gives Back. I mean, most producers of telethons “give” by producing the show. Idol already exists, is the #1 show so has high ad rates, and seemingly gets its talent for free. So…. exactly…. WHAT does IDOL give?????

  • Working Girl

    I think that “Gypsy Queen” is like my favorite freaking song right now and I love JPL. And cool it, Lori – that’s the kind of dish “discreet” people don’t spill! Eff that! I’ll take Jon’s indiscretion!

  • Elizabeth

    Between Jon’s entry above, and Amanda’s exit interview, I have a glimmer of hope that these contestants (past, present, and future) have a grasp on reality. I agree with a few of his points.

  • Seejay

    Great comments, sounds like you and Amanda have stayed grounded.I did not watch season 1-2-3-but have ever since. I did not vote for Amanda since her style is not my thing, but really hope she makes it , she is not the plastic kind that so many are. Good luck Amanda! And Kisty should have been the one to go !!!!

  • EP Sato

    Wait, was this written by Jon Peter Lewis? Or is this like one of those biographies where it’s “Jon Peter Lewis as interpreted by Shirley Halperin”?
    The show’s gone through big changes, but we can all expect tv shows to become extended commercials. So many people have DVRs now that commercials are frequently skipped altogether. Thus, big swigs of Coca Cola and questions about “what is in your Ipod” are the only way to appease the sponsors who’re probably concerned no one watches their ads.
    IMHO, no one played on this theme better than 30 Rock, who had an entire episode dedicated to “posmens” which featured over the top product placement to a hilarious effect.

  • Adam B. Vary / EW

    Just to clarify, yes, this is *really* Jon Peter Lewis writing; Shirley just posted it through her Popwatch account.

  • Mishtat

    first, i LOVE your new single ‘Break the Silence!’ saw the video on your MySpace…bravo!!! can’t wait for the album. i DID see you on the last Idol eppy…friends tipped me off that you would be on and then after i saw you i turned off the whole mess. i really like the idea of Idol, but not what they’ve done with it. it’s not really about the contestants anymore, it’s all about the machine. i know you and many others think there is nothing wrong with having those ‘ringers’ in the contest, but i do (and Idol must too, or they wouldn’t try to cover it up). here’s why it bugs me…they convince millions of Americans that their personal Cinderella story is possible, torture them with this huge audition process, then only show the out-takes of how stupid the ‘regular joes’ are for even trying to follow their dreams. instead they hire semi-pros onto the show instead. i’ve got nothing against the ‘ringers’ – they are just following the rules, but the process is deceptive. my 2 cents :)

  • Scott Tobias

    Great stuff, Jon. Such candor is rare, especially from American Idol performers past and present, who seem contractually obligated to close rank and uphold their Up With People image from now to eternity. Something I’ve always wondered: Do the contestants on any given season really love each other that much? I have a hard time believing there isn’t any discord, but every Elimination Show, it’s waterworks for everyone that leaves.

  • pinkyyy

    i dont care who the hell he is or wat he saw or not………………BUT DAVID ARCHULETA IS HOTTTTTTTTTTTT

  • amandafan

    amanda’s exit interview lived up to my expectations; i wish like crazy she had made it into the top 10, but now i dont have to worry about getting tickets for the tour.
    on to jon: the show is much worse than it was even a year ago. i am a pretty tolerant person, but i cant watch it any more. i record the performances, watch the ones i am interested in, go back and watch others that get a lot of mention here on the boards. i dont watch the elimination show AT ALL, except for the last 5 min. as a result, now i dont hate myself on thursday mornings any more.

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