Voting dis-chord: Some votes thrown out for "America's Hot Muscian"

Thursday, July 17, 2008

With dozens of reality contest shows pouring over the air waves, people can easily get confused — so many themes, judges, contestants, rules and voting methods.

Those last two parts of the equation apparently caused a bit of confusion among some contestants of "America's Hot Musician," one of them being Cape Girardeau native Liesl Schoenberger. Their mistake skewed the e-mail voting for the show's final episode and caused the show's producers at American Youth Symphony to throw out the standings and redo the final results.

The show has been airing online, and the finals and results show were to air on the cable channel Lifetime Real Women. During the finals episode Friday, American Youth Symphony inserted a code for each performer. Viewers were supposed to chose the best act and send an e-mail with the appropriate code in the subject line. The e-mailed votes were supposed to make up 60 percent of the score.

"We were really trying to get the public to watch and say who they thought was the best act," said Gregory Charles Royal, American Youth Symphony artistic director and a judge on the show.

Some of the contestants e-mailed friends and family with their code and asked for votes. Royal said the contestants were encouraged to contact friends and family and have them watch the show, but some were too "ambitious," he said.

SE Live and the Southeast Missourian have featured articles on Schoenberger's accomplishments and current exploits, including on "Hot Musician." Schoenberger sent SE Live an e-mail plea for votes Sunday that was subsequently posted in a blog on semissourian.com.

Royal was quick to clarify Schoenberger was not the only one, but said that because not all of the five finalists sent such messages, that the show turned into more of a popularity contest with friends and relatives voting more than actual viewers.

The producers have opted to rerun the finals show at 9 a.m. Sunday in lieu of the results show. They are in the process of compiling a 300-person panel of regular viewers and industry professionals to cast the final votes and determine the winner.

While there is no million-dollar purse, the winner of "America's Hot Musician" will win a one-year recording contract.

"While we understand the enthusiasm of our competitors, these actions defeat the purpose of having votes come in from people who actually watch the show," American Youth Symphony executive director Susan Veres said in a statement. "If our voting base were millions of viewers this would not be an issue, but we have a smaller audience and to honor these votes at the expense of the competitors who did not engage in these actions, would not be fair."

This year was the first "America's Hot Musician." The show allows any type of musician and this season has featured keyboard, fiddle, flute and a few guitars, among other instruments. All the episodes, including the final, can be viewed online at the show's Web site www.americashotmusician.org.

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