'American Idol' Food Fight: Craft Services Budget Crackdown
The singing competition's ratings are taking a beating, with backstage snacks a casualty of declining ad rates.
This story first appeared in the April 26 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.
American Idol has taken a beating for its slumping ratings, down 18 percent compared with last year, and those diminishing ad rates seem to be having a ripple effect -- all the way to the craft-services table.
In early March, when season 12 went live from Stage 36 at CBS Television City, crewmembers looking to snack were surprised to find a 25-cent fee attached to once-free edibles such as cookies and cottage cheese. By month's end, the price even went up -- to $1.
"It's so bizarre," says one show insider. "What's next, pay toilets?" In an ironic twist, the food in the press room, which Idol only began serving in 2011 after spare-no-expense The X Factor impressed journalists with its spread, has been getting better. But all that coddling doesn’t seem to be helping, since it’s those very outlets ragging on the series.
For its part, a rep for FremantleMedia, Idol's production company, tells THR that free goodies remain in a tent located in the parking lot, but for those seeking a quicker food fix, "The snack area on the stage is something additional."
Adds the source: “Only at Idol, kids.”