Last night was the season premiere of Fox’s hugely successful reality TV show American Idol. One of the more, um, colorful contestants was “Bikini Girl”Katrina Darrell, who traipsed into her audition wearing nothing more than a bikini and high heels.
Color me cynical, but the following thought occurred to me: Is is possible that Bikini Girl Katrina Darrell’s appearance on the show was “manufactured” and sanctioned by Mike Darnell, Fox’s head of alternative programming?
After all, Darnell has instituted a number of overt changes to the show in response to last year’s midseason ratings lull. Chief among them is the introduction of a fourth judge – Grammy-nominated songwriter Kara DioGuardi. Other changes include the featuring of 36 semifinalists instead of 24, and more, as Los Angeles Times writer Richard Rushfield puts it, “backstage footage to underscore the young contestants’ emotional agonies.”
This is the eighth season of American Idol. When a TV show gets to be that old, it becomes necessary to make changes in order to keep the show fresh and engaging. That’s understandable. But it’s also important to ensure that the changes are innovative and relevant – and respect the intelligence and loyalty of the fans. Changes that can be perceived as manipulative run the risk of insulting fans. And that can turn into a ratings catastrophe.
So, was Bikini Girl Katrina Darrell’s appearance on American Idol orchestrated by the show’s producers? Who knows. It’s certainly possible that it wasn’t. It’s certainly possible that it was bikini girl Katrina Darrell’s decision – and her decision alone – to come to the audition in a bikini. It’s certainly possible that it was Katrina Darrell’s decision to be catty and defensive and to hurl insults at new judge Kara DioGuardi.
It will interesting to see whether Katrina Darrell continues to advance on American Idol (she made it to the next round in Hollywood). She does have some singing ability and she clearly impressed the two male judges – Simon Cowell and Randy Jackson (though it’s highly probable they were more interested in her beautiful body than her singing ability).
If Katrina Darrell is an entirely legitimate contestant then, based upon her behavior, one would be reasonable in concluding that she is the type of American Idol contestant that is more interested in publicity and self-aggrandizement than a singing career. If, however, I had to say one thing in favor of Katrina Darrell, one thing that seemed to be genuine, it would be this: Her breasts appear to be real.
Bikini-Clad American Idol Hopeful Katrina Darrell Defies the Odds (Video), wowOwow.com
So Simon calls you self-indulgent, Richard Rushfield, Los Angeles Times, January 13, 2009