Louis J. Horvitz on ‘retooling’ ‘American Idol,’ directing awards shows (Exclusive Video)

For awards pundits like us, Louis J. Horvitz is the king of all directors, having helmed everything from the Oscars and the Emmys to the Kids’ Choice Awards. When he sat down recently with Gold Derby to chat about his new gig at “American Idol” (watch interview below), we asked him if there were any secrets to his job.

“I think the [key] to directing a successful awards show is something that I really value my work on, and that is to take the various categories in the awards, see who the nominees are, and find out what personal relationships they may have in the room.”

Watch: ‘American Idol’ winner Caleb Johnson
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Horvitz explained further, “So if Martin Scorsese comes up, then it’s not only Martin Scorsese’s significant other that I would cut to for applause or listening, I would include Daniel Day-Lewis, I would include Leonardo DiCaprio. It’s kind of this story, an inter-connection, of who’s in that room attending that particular night. When an individual wins their award, I try to show as many connected individuals as I can to the winner.”

Being such a pro at directing live events, Horvitz was a no-brainer to be the new director on Season 13 of “American Idol.” “When it came time and they were asking me if I would be interested in doing ‘American Idol,’ I knew that this was kind of like a hybrid variety show in a lot of ways where there was a big emphasis on the contestants performing music, and then there was the game. The game of the judges judging the individual’s performance and having to again tell a story which was between the performer, the judge, the family, the other contestants watching somebody perform. So ‘American Idol’ had all of the parts of something that I’d done many, many times in other forms but never together.”

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Despite his success in the past, there was a bit of a learning curve with “Idol.” “It’s taken me most of the season to really get the kind of groove that I want with it, but at the same token I believe that they hired me for my experience and skills. But also they knew that I had a reputation of coming in to shows that have run a really long time in the number one slot and maybe getting two or three more years on the air by retooling [them].”

Among the changes that Horvitz made for Season 13, he created a rotating stage for the judges to help give the studio a 360 degree look, improved the lighting design, increased the number of cameras and better utilized the 16:9 format as if he were filming a motion picture.

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“American Idol” was nominated for Best Reality Competition Series for the first nine years of that category’s existence, but was snubbed in 2012 and hasn’t made it back to the Emmy party since. Instead, hot new singing show “The Voice” took “Idol’s” place on the Emmy list and pulled off something even “Idol” couldn’t do: it won.

Do you think Horvitz’s addition to “American Idol” will help the show be nominated again at the Emmys? Use our easy drag-and-drop menu below the interview to make your predictions.

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