This week's mistake on the show was not deliberate, says its executive producer

By Stephen M. Silverman
Updated March 24, 2005 08:00 AM

Following American Idol‘s phone number snafu – in which the wrong numbers were shown onscreen, forcing a re-vote Wednesday night – a cynic might think it was a clever and deliberate ratings ploy by Idol producers.

“Rubbish,” they reply.

“Why would we contaminate the honesty of one of the top-rated shows in America by fiddling with it?” the FOX talent show’s executive producer Ken Warwick posited Wednesday in a telephone news conference to reporters.

“It’s regrettable,” he admitted. “This was a human error and we had to address it as best we could.” An independent contractor, whom Warwick declined to identify, caused the error-riddled on-air display.

Tuesday night, wrong phone numbers were flashed on screen for those viewers wishing to vote for contestants Mikalah Gordon, Anwar Robinson and Jessica Sierra.

Wednesday night featured clips of Tuesday night’s show and a second chance for all 11 aspirants to face judges Simon Cowell, Randy Jackson and Paula Abdul. “Welcome to the show none of us were expecting,” said host Ryan Seacrest.

Tuesday’s voting results have been trashed, and Wednesday’s outcome will be announced in a half-hour Idol special Thursday that has been paired with the debut of a new FOX sitcom, Life on a Stick.

The two shows will replace the usual Thursday night FOX fare, the low-rated drama Point Pleasant (which averages 4 million viewers an episode, compared to Idol‘s 30 million). Early reviews of Life on a Stick have been unfavorable.