We have answers to five questions readers are dying to ask
Anonymous, the author of Elimination
Night—a deliciously outrageous novel inspired by American Idol and other top TV talent competitions.
Q: In Elimination Night, the world's
most-watched TV competition suffers a disastrous season premiere and begins to
implode, starting with the judges—exactly what seems to be happening to American Idol. Are you some kind of clairvoyant?
Anonymous: It doesn't take a clairvoyant to see that this has been
coming for a long time. Idol has been
our generation's Ed Sullivan Show—pretty
much owning prime-time ratings and making billions of dollars. But nothing
lasts forever. And when an empire of that size starts to crumble, things are
going to get ugly. At the same time, this is still a singing competition we're talking about, so the whole American Idol saga is kind of comical
and absurd. That's what inspired Elimination
Night. The title actually refers to the fate of the show itself, rather
than that of the contestants.
Q: You worked for
the show, right? And you're remaining anonymous to protect your career?
A: Let's just say I have very deep access to that world,
including behind-the-scenes knowledge of a popular TV singing competition. I'm
not Ryan Seacrest, though, as some journalists seem to think.
Q: The tabloids
have speculated that the host in Elimination
Night is such an over-the-top villain that it could be a double bluff,
indicating who the real author might be. The judges are equally crazy, though. Is
everyone in reality TV an unstable
A: Well, reality-show judges have their flaws. But the book
is about understanding what makes them act the way they do. It might look easy
to say "You're going to Hollywood," but the judges are under a
thousand times more scrutiny and pressure than most of us. Also, I'd say 99% of
the characters in the book have redeeming features. The rock-star judge, Joey
Lovecraft, is a very lovable, funny guy. We're rooting for him in the end.
Q: The diva on
the panel is Bibi Vasquez. Even when she has an on-air meltdown, it's
premeditated. Is that usually the case, like when Mariah Carey and Nicki Minaj
A: I think it's
often a mixture of things that viewers at home don't fully understand. With
Bibi, she's genuinely upset about voting off one very tragic contestant, but
she's also furious that she wasn't able to overrule the decision. So it's as
much a tantrum as it is genuine sadness. That said, I don't think it's any big
secret that some of these judges really do despise each other, or at least feel
very threatened and jealous. When people say the meltdowns are all
fake—honestly, they don't know what they're talking about. I wish they could
spend just 10 seconds backstage.
Q: Are the judges
really so petty that they fight over who gets more candy in the dressing rooms?
A: Trust me:
They're obsessed with the tiniest
details. For example, when the judges walk onstage at the beginning of the
show, how is that presented? These things are hugely important from a branding
point of view. Does the least important judge just walk on, while the most
important one arrives on a giant mechanical arm? Does one get to endorse her
product line? Does the other get to play his music video? Millions of dollars
are at stake for the celebrities—they're not just doing this for fun. And when
something goes wrong, usually the lowest-level producer ends up getting the
blame. In Elimination Night, of
course, that's me.