American Idol Season Six: Major Surprise Planned

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American Idol executive producer Cecile Frot-Coutaz promises a big event midway through the coming season of the FOX talent show - but she won't say what it is.

"If there's one thing that makes American Idol so big, it's a huge event," she told the Daily News. "Something we're working on is a big-event show, sometime in the middle of the season, something that will blow America away."
American Idol Season Six: Major Surprise Planned

Earlier in the day, Ryan Seacrest also talked about the upcoming season.

Hard to believe the folks behind American Idol can get the show any bigger than it already is. When it's on - and it's only around 19 weeks a year - the show is the biggest thing on the small screen, generating huge Nielsen ratings and daily water-cooler buzz.

Each season the show rolls around, there are gentle warnings that the audience level will drop. But each year the show does better.

Last season, the Tuesday edition of American Idol was watched by an average of 31.02 million people to rank No. 1 for the season. That's up three million from the 27.44 million the season before.

Moreover, the show has launched the careers of music superstars Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood and Dreamgirls star Jennifer Hudson.

American Idol returns with two-hour editions on Jan. 16 and 17 at 8 p.m.

Few shows have had the run it's enjoyed and remained as strong. But Frot-Coutaz said a drop is not out of the realm of possibility.

"Look," she said, "it's always in the back of your mind. The only thing we can do is make the best show we can and find the best talent as possible. The rest, some of it is up to Fox and how they promoted it. The rest is the competitive landscape. If we keep giving [viewers] something entertaining, it will be fine."

Matt Richenthal is the Editor in Chief of TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter and on Google+.