As we prepare to vote on the top 24 American Idol contestants, Reality TV Magazine took time to sit down with a former contestant.
Scott Savol made it all the way to the final five in Season Four, despite having his arrest record publicized after a couple rounds of auditions. Below, he comments on that situation and more.
Reality TV Magazine: American Idol contestants Akron Watson was given a golden ticket to Hollywood, but later he was uninvited, possibly because of an arrest for marijuana possession in his background that he claims he told producers about in advance. As a former American Idol finalist, do you think it was right for the show to uninvite Akron?
Scott Savol: I donâ€™t really have enough information about Akron Watsonâ€™s situation to have an opinion on whether or not the decision was fair. In the end, the decision was made by FOX and/or the producers of American Idol and Iâ€™m sure they have their reasons. I do feel, however, that if contestants have been honest with the producers of the show and have been forthcoming about their pasts, that contestants with minor arrest records should be allowed to continue.
Scott Savol: No. There was one contestant that I auditioned with in Cleveland that had received a golden ticket but never made it to Hollywood week; however, I do not know why he was not at this phase of the audition rounds.
Reality TV Magazine: What kind of background investigation does the show do on contestants and at what stage does it occur in the audition process?
Scott Savol: I donâ€™t know whether or not the background investigation process has changed since Season 4, but when I was on Idol every contestant that went to Hollywood had to fill out information forms and consent to a background investigation. When the group in Hollywood was narrowed down to about 41 contestants (before the final cut for the top 24), we each had to sit down with private investigators that asked us all kinds of questions.
Reality TV Magazine: At what stage of the audition process did you tell American Idol producers about your arrest for domestic violence?
Scott Savol: Actually my arrest in 2001 was for misdemeanor assault (not domestic violence), which was later pled down to a charge of disorderly conduct for which I received probation. I supplied the show with this information in my background forms/papers, and again in my in-person interviews with the private investigators.
Reality TV Magazine: When news broke about your arrest, what were the rules that American Idol producers gave you in regards to answering questions from the press?
Scott Savol: There were really no rules that I was given by the producers. The news of my arrest broke after I had made the top 12 and the producers simply told me to ignore the negative stuff being said, not to let it bother me, and to keep focused on my performances. The producers were very supportive and told me not to worry about it, as I had been forthcoming about the arrest from the beginning, and not to let this discourage or distract me in the competition.