*As previously reported, Gloria Gaynor, Gladys Knight, Thelma Houston and Sheila E. were due to honor the late Donna Summer during Wednesday’s “American Idol” finale, but the all-star moment never happened – with zero explanation from producers.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, the salute, which also included Jennifer Holliday and Nelly Furtado, was scheduled for the first half of the two-hour show, but was pulled last-minute by the network.
Executive producer Nigel Lythgoe tells THR that the reason the medley was cut was “purely and simply time [constraints].”
However, some in the audience had seen a portion of the tribute taped at Los Angeles’ Nokia Theater on Tuesday, when Kristin Chenoweth and “Idol” runner-up Jessica Sanchez teamed for “Enough is Enough,” Summer’s chart-topping single with Barbra Streisand. The performance was described by one observer as “weak,” notes THR.
Some of the tribute participants were also heard rehearsing a medley on Tuesday night. In fact, according to a THR source, “Idol” had already paid for several of the artists’ travel and accommodations. Still, another insider tells THR that at least one of the women — Furtado — was never confirmed for the finale in the first place.
In related news, ratings for this year’s “American Idol” finale were the lowest in its 11-year history – and down 32% compared to season 10’s last show.