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NBC: We didn't hire Kelly Clarkson for Voice to spite Idol

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D Dipasupil/Getty Images

NBC execs say they didn’t need American Idol — and are denying an industry rumor suggesting the network deliberately trumped ABC by hiring Kelly Clarkson for The Voice.

The network’s top executives admitted on a conference call with reporters on Sunday to having “conversations” with Idol producer Fremantle Media about potentially acquiring the show. But that was as far as things progressed.

“We didn’t need Idol,” says NBC Entertainment chairman Robert Greenblatt. “We did have conversations with them about Idol. We recognize the franchise is great. … We just decided we have The Voice, [and] a couple of music competition shows that we’re down the road developing that you may see coming to the schedule as early as next summer. We thought we’re going to stick with our hand.”

Added NBC’s reality chief Paul Telegdy: “The audience didn’t tell us there was a compelling reason to bring [Idol] back, either.”

The other issue addressed by executives is whether NBC deliberately snatched up Jennifer Hudson and Kelly Clarkson last week as The Voice coaches to block ABC from hiring them on Idol. The Idol producers were definitely interested in signing Clarkson, we hear, and rebooting Idol with two of the most popular former Idol contestants now at the judge’s table makes a whole lot of sense — especially given how The Voice tends to hire on big name pop stars. The timing certainly suggested that NBC was coach-blocking ABC by picking the two names that would obviously make a perfect fit for the other show. But the executives denied they were even thinking about Idol when casting their show.

“We’ve been talking to those two for a long time about joining The Voice,” Telegdy said. “We didn’t make the connection between them appearing on the show and ABC’s return of Idol.”

NBC just announced its new fall schedule which had some dramatic changes for the network’s lineup.