How to fix American Idol?

It may seem odd to talk about reviving what is still the top non-sports program on television, but even the executives at Fox acknowledge that Idol is in need of fixing. How do you renew interest in a tiring format? Here are some suggestions.

1. Get rid of the endless qualifying rounds. A couple of blooper shows showcasing the most deluded auditioners will do.

2. Drop the theme nights and the annual barrage of oldies. The aging of your audience is directly related to your reliance on antique music. Try Top 40. Bonus: You'd get better performances if the kids were singing songs they actually know.

3. Dispense with all the shabby cross-promotions - the contestant-conscripted Ford commercials, the trips to Tommy Hilfiger's closet. It makes you look cheap.

4. The results shows are ridiculously padded. Cap them at a half hour. Your greed is killing you.

5. Dump Seacrest. His natty Napoleonic complex is anguishing to watch.

6. Keep the surprises coming. Bring back past crowd favorites like Sanjaya. Make the judges perform and let the kids critique them - anything to break the routine and generate some buzz.

7. Do a better job of promoting your winners. When guys like Kris Allen and Lee DeWyze drop off the face of the earth, it's like we just wasted a whole season.

Yes, all this will mean a somewhat shorter season and fewer commercials, two prospects that should thrill the executives at Fox.