Long-anticipated changes to American Idol were disclosed Thursday in what appears to be an internal Fox Network memo leaked to an AI fansite, MJ's Big Blog, operated by M.J. Santilli, a Boston-based computer network administrator. The memo says that the show's producers intend to pare down the audition episodes but increase the number of chosen contestants to 36 instead of 24. A wild-card round will give eliminated contestants a chance to join the top 12 in the final rounds; The parade of untalented contestants will be reduced, and the Idol Gives Back telethon will be eliminated next year but will likely return in 2010. It was announced earlier this year that songwriter Kara DioGuardi will become a fourth judge on Idol next season. No Thursday specials will air, but the number of two-hour shows will be increased, according to the memo, which could not be verified.

12/12/2008