TV Article

Ringing Endorsements

''Idol'' will add phone lines for final vote. The move addresses local congestion problems that have reportedly blocked millions of votes each week

Maybe now, ''American Idol'' fans will stop complaining about problems with the voting system. Last week, ''Idol'' producers announced that they would double the voting window on Tuesday night from two hours to four hours for the vote that will decide the contest between Fantasia Barrino and Diana DeGarmo. That news came shortly after a trade publication reported that congestion among local phone service carriers unable to handle the volume of Tuesday calls was preventing millions of people each week from getting through to ''Idol'''s AT&T long-distance pipeline to vote for their favorite singers. Now, USA Today reports, ''Idol'' will address that problem by adding additional phone numbers for this week's finale.

Fans of Fantasia or Diana will now have multiple numbers to call to support their favorites. ''We had already planned on expanding the voting window for the finale, just as we did last year. With the volume of calls this season already exceeding last year's finale, we also felt it was important to give fans additional phone numbers in an attempt to reduce congestion at local exchanges,'' explained executive producer Cecile Frot-Coutaz.

Barrino is getting support from her fellow Tarheel Clay Aiken, who will host a free viewing party of the finale on Wednesday at the Greensboro, N.C., Coliseum. As for DeGarmo, whether she wins the contest or comes in second, as Aiken did last year, she plans to record an album immediately -- the ''Idol'' summer tour schedule allowing. ''My plans are definitely just to keep the ball rolling,'' she tells the Associated Press, ''don't stop while people know who I am.''

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Originally posted May 24, 2004
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