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''Idol'' phone foul-up forces revote

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Ryan Seacrest

Fox has accidentally stumbled onto a way to squeeze an extra airing of American Idol onto its schedule: foul up the phone voting. That’s what happened Tuesday night, when the show displayed the wrong call-in numbers for three of the contestants. Voters who called the numbers listed for Anwar Robinson, Mikalah Gordon, or Jessica Sierra would have inadvertently registered support instead for Anthony Fedorov, Carrie Underwood, or Scott Savol. As a result, the error is forcing the first revote in Idol history.

Fox said in a statement that it would air a new hour-long Idol episode Wednesday night, adding that the show ”will combine new live elements with encores of Tuesday’s performances from the remaining 11 contestants.” Fans will then be allowed to call in their votes on Wednesday night, while Tuesday’s votes will be tossed out. The results show that usually airs Wednesdays will then air on Thursday. This may prove an awkward solution, but it beats getting the Supreme Court involved.

In a conference call with reporters on Wednesday, Idol producer Ken Warwick said that this solution — airing new live comments from Ryan Seacrest and the judges around the taped performances from Tuesday’s show — would not only be less ”boring” than a complete rerun of the performance episode, but was also ”the only way the whole thing can be fair.” He said that, as soon as Fox alerted producers to the mistake, all the votes were discarded, and no one involved in the production knew what the tally had been. He didn’t say who would eat the cost of the re-vote, but callers and text-message users won’t be charged for last night’s votes. As for the cause behind the misprinted phone numbers, Warwick blamed ”human error” but said the mistake was made by an outside contractor. He said he didn’t know whether the man responsible was fired or not but said, ”We probably won’t see him in the building anymore.”

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