FBC PUBLICITY: American Idol Eliminated Contestant Call
April 8, 2011/9:30 a.m. PDT
Michael Cilnis – FBC Publicity
Pia Toscano – Contestant, American Idol
Moderator Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for standing by and welcome to the American Idol Interview Call with Pia Toscano. I’d also like to remind you that today’s conference is being recorded.
I’ll now turn the conference over to Michael Cilnis for opening remarks.
M. Cilnis Good morning, everybody. Thanks for joining us on the American Idol Eliminated Contestant Conference Call with Pia Toscano. As a reminder, Pia is here to discuss her experience on American Idol and her plans moving forward. As always, if we feel that anyone is harping on any one topic, we do reserve the right to step in and move on.
With that said, we’ll take the first question.
Moderator That will come from Matt Mitovich with TVLine.
M. Mitovich obviously words such as “shocker” have been thrown around in the past 12-hours about your elimination. Why do you think that the voters didn’t show up for you?
P. Toscano I’ve been asked that question a lot today, and I really don’t know. There’s no exact like formula, you really don’t know. It’s funny, because the night before I had like a weird feeling in my stomach. I felt good about my performance. I tried something different; I had a blast doing it. I said to my parents, “I kind of feel like I’m going to be in the bottom three tomorrow.” They said, “No, no, be confident. You’re going to be fine. You’re going to be fine.” Then when it happened, it’s kind of like—I don’t know, I kind of like expected it. It was weird.
M. Mitovich Of course hindsight is 20/20, but is there anything you think you might have done differently in these last few weeks?
P. Toscano Absolutely not. I feel like every—if you make a mistake, it’s just helping you grow. You learn from those mistakes, so I wouldn’t change a thing. I truly agree with everything that the judges said to me—all their constructive criticism. I’ve tried to work on my weaknesses, and I will continue to do so.
Moderator Next, we have Mike Hughes with TV America.
M. Hughes Hey, Pia, two questions about song choice. First of all, the old rule that Randy always gave was never do Whitney, Mariah, or Celine, and you did them, and scored with them. What did you think of that original notion of never try those three?
P. Toscano I like to challenge myself, and I like to take risks. Those are singers that I’ve grown up listening to, so I just tried my best, did my best with them, and they went over well. So I’m just thankful that everybody enjoyed my performances.
M. Hughes Then the flip side of that, we’ve seen this happen so often. A judge will say, “Do something different next week. Do something different next week.” The person does something different, and that’s the week they’re voted out. Now this was the first week you did more of a rock song and you were voted out. In retrospect, do we overemphasize that, “Do something different,” when you only get one song a week to sing?
P. Toscano No, it’s nobody’s fault, and the judges were absolutely right. Like, I needed to change it up, and I was looking forward—I was really excited about this performance and I have no regrets going into it. It was definitely—it wasn’t even that much out of my comfort zone because back at home I was doing a lot of up tempo stuff; more so than the ballads.
So it wasn’t out of my comfort zone so much. I had so much fun. I know I have to just get more comfortable on stage. I am a little shy sometimes, and I do get a little bit of stage fright.
Moderator We’ll go to Mark Stone with the Kelowna Daily Courier.
M. Stone Which judge did you most identify with, and what was the best piece of advice they gave you last night after everything happened?
P. Toscano I really have a connection with every single one—Randy, Steven and Jennifer. They have this quality about them. They’re so nurturing and they—last night was such a blur. I was so emotional I could barely get through that last song. So when they came up to me, I was just very, very overwhelmed and they were just so, like—they were in shock. It was shocking to see them like that. So they were just like, “If you ever need anything, call us. We’re here for you, and we love you.” They were just so supportive, and I really needed that at that time.
M. Stone Can you describe—maybe describe Jennifer Lopez for us in one word.
P. Toscano Perfection, she really is. She absolutely is. Like, I mean, she has such a good way of telling you how to do—like every constructive critique that I’ve gotten, it helped me, and it was true. She’s absolutely stunning inside and out, and I’m blessed to have gotten the chance to work with her.
Moderator Next we have Matt Carter with Examiner.com.
M. Carter I’ve been kind of looking around social media, and everything, and you have pretty much everybody from Tom Hanks to Snooki from Jersey Shore completely devastated and shocked over what’s happened. So how have these past 12 sort of hours been for you getting in all this support from not just normal people, but people you wouldn’t even think would be watching Idol?
P. Toscano It’s amazing. I mean, it just helps me in the situation. Last night—it’s not that I was shocked or anything like that, I was just upset to be leaving the contestants. I was upset that next week I wasn’t going to be able to perform again. I was just trying to stay positive and know that everything happens for a reason, but to have the support of a lot of celebrities right now, and just my fans—it’s amazing, and it’s the best feeling in the world.
M. Carter Just for readers because we were all pretty much assuming you’re going to get signed, and you’re going to make an album. What sort of music do you expect to kind of make moving forward? Are there are sort of people out there you would want to work with?
P. Toscano Moving forward I would definitely go in the pop genre with an R&B influence. I definitely want to have those big, power ballads, as well, and those dance hits. But, I definitely, I enjoyed so much working with Rodney Jerkins. I worked with Harvey Mason, Jr.; Ron Fair; and I would love to work with Ryan Tedder in the future.
Moderator Next we have Gina Scarpa with RealityWanted.com.
G. Scarpa When Ryan said that you were eliminated, you immediately were looking at the judges. I was wondering what was going through your mind, and if you wished maybe the save was still around for you.
P. Toscano No, I mean I was just really just trying to stay composed. I was really emotional. It was sad. It’s scary being up there, it’s like you lose years off your life. Like I felt like I was—oh, my God, it’s terrifying, but I feel like everything happens for a reason. I looked at the judges because—I don’t really know. It’s just—your mind goes blank. I was in such a blur at that moment, and I was just emotional, so it was a hard night for me.
G. Scarpa You must be looking forward to going on tour, and I’m wondering if you’re thinking about doing both a ballad and an up-tempo for it.
P. Toscano Yes, the tour is going to be so much fun. I’m definitely looking—it’s kind of more of a laid back situation. You just go out there and perform. I’m definitely looking forward to that, and I’m going to do my up tempos, and I’m going to do my ballads. I’m going to put a nice mix into the tour.
Moderator We will go to Rodney Ho with the Atlanta Journal Constitution.
R. Ho Many people think you have the best voice in the competition, but the most common criticism I’ve heard is you simply didn’t project an exciting personality on stage. I know J Lo sort of said that on Tuesday. I was wondering, how does that make you feel when you hear that type of criticism?
P. Toscano Well, what a lot of people don’t know about me is that I’ve been performing for a long time, but I do get kind of shy, and I get a little bit of stage fright before I go on stage, which is something I feel like everybody can relate to. It’s really intimidating to go out every week. So it’s something that I have to work on as a performer, but I’m going to do so, and I’m going to make sure for the tour I really own that stage.
R. Ho Do you think that played, perhaps, into the whole issue of not getting enough votes? When there are so many good singers out there, it’s really hard to choose when you’re trying to decide to vote.
P. Toscano It could have been. I really don’t know. I know that I gave my all the other night, and I don’t have any regrets. I had a good time performing.
Moderator Next we have Marc Wilkofsky with Soap Opera Weekly.
M. Wilkofsky Now are there positive aspects for you to your leaving the competition?
P. Toscano Absolutely. I mean, there are so many good things that are going to come from this experience. I’ve met so many incredible producers. Jimmy Iovine was my mentor, and he’s someone that I’ve always wanted to work with. I mean, so many doors are going to open for me. They already have. I’m just looking forward to going on tour with the other contestants and it’s really going to be great. I’m excited to see what my future holds.
M. Wilkofsky How do you deal with the pressure of singing to millions?
P. Toscano It’s definitely a very high-pressure situation and a lot of deep breathing that goes into it before the show. I know I have to like kind of separate myself from everything, because I get the jitters before I go on stage. So I do a lot of deep breathing. It’s tough, though.
Moderator We have Michael Weinfeld with Associated Press.
M. Weinfeld What was it like for you when you were voted off and you’re looking at the judges, and Jennifer Lopez has got tears streaming down her face?
P. Toscano That was tough for me because Jennifer has helped me so much, and she’s someone that I admire. To see her so upset with the outcome of last night, it just blew my mind. I couldn’t believe it. It’s not that I was in shock; I just couldn’t believe that my journey had ended on the show. It was nice to have their support. It was really nice.
M. Weinfeld So you had all the judges saying they thought this was a mistake, and Ryan Seacrest is saying it. And standing right next to Ryan Seacrest is Stefano, who—what do you think is going through his mind? Did you say anything to him afterwards considering that everybody thought it was a mistake and yet he was the guy that was staying?
P. Toscano Stefano is a very good friend of mine. He’s an incredible person, and I feel like—I mean, the whole time I was sitting down with him in the bottom three, he was just saying, “You’re not going anywhere,” to me. He was, “I’m the one that’s going.” I’m saying to him, “No, you’re not going.” Like, he was just so supportive of me, and I feel like he was so upset last night with the outcome of the situation, but he deserves to be in the top eight right now. He’s an incredible talent, and everything happens the way it’s supposed to happen.
Moderator Next we have Antonia Blyth with Us Weekly Magazine.
A. Blyth Everyone’s saying this is an upset of the ilk of Jennifer Hudson being voted off. What do you think about the fact that I think some people are saying that partly people sort of thought you were safe and forgot to vote for you, almost, because the judges being just so nice to everyone. There’s no sort of discriminatory comments to anybody, it’s more everybody’s of the same ilk. How do you feel about that?
P. Toscano I mean, you really don’t know. You can’t really say why I got voted off. Like it could have been maybe people assumed I was safe, maybe they didn’t. Maybe it was because the lack of connection or—you don’t know for sure why things happen, but it did. It wasn’t my time—I mean, it was my time to go on the show, and I’m excited to see what my future holds. I really am.
A. Blyth What did your parents say when you spoke to them after?
P. Toscano My parents, the last time they were out here was my Top 12 performance, and that was “I’ll Stand By You.” They had so much confidence that they felt that I was going to be here for a long time. So they were just letting everybody in my family take the tickets, and I said, “Guys, come out here, because you never know what’s going to happen.” You really never know who’s going to go home. The obvious choice could. It’s ridiculous, you really never know, but my parents—they’re just always super supportive, and I’m happy that they were there. I’m really happy. I needed their support.
Moderator Next, we have Gil Kaufman with MTV News.
G. Kaufman One of the things that I keep hearing from people this morning is the question of, “Can a woman win Idol again?” We haven’t had a female winner since Jordin Sparks. The last three seasons we’ve had only two women in the top eight. I wonder if you think that because of the nature of the voting public for Idol, is it even a harder hill to climb for female contestants on the show? Do you think a woman can win again?
P. Toscano Definitely. It’s anybody’s game right now. I feel like every single one of the contestants are like extremely strong. They all have their own unique quality about them that makes them special. So I definitely—you really don’t know. I could never say for sure if a girl’s going to win or a guy’s going to win, but I know each and every one the contestants that are in it right now deserve to be there.
G. Kaufman What about the other thing that somebody said to me this morning was some of the guys got kind of their special moments. James got his Hulk Hogan moment, and Kelly Clarkson was called out for Casey saying that she thought he was cute, and all those girls ran up for Stefano. But it seems like the women on the show haven’t necessarily gotten—and you, especially, haven’t really gotten that kind of special moment that maybe would bond them a little bit more with the audience. Do you think that might have been something that hurt you on the show, as well?
P. Toscano I don’t really know. It’s so hard to say. I really don’t think so. I feel like we all have our moments on the show and it’s really, really a hard call.
Moderator We’ll go next to Bill Pinella with the Santa Rosa Press Democrat.
B. Pinella Now that you’ve gone through the whole process, your perception of the show before you got on and now that you’ve seen the reality of it—did they differ a lot?
P. Toscano I’ve been through this process a few times. I’ve auditioned since Season Five, so this is everything I’ve ever dreamed of and more. I think the show is amazing. Ken and Nigel are the most amazing people, and they help you out so much. The panel was just like—I mean, couldn’t have had a better panel this year. Everybody just wants the best for you and wants you to—they don’t want you to go home. So I think maybe that was the biggest surprise. I didn’t realize how much they wanted you there, and how much they adore you and really want the best for you.
B. Pinella Back to that question about a girl winning, last week both contestants that were eliminated, they talked about how they thought the voting public, which is mostly teenage girls, goes for boys. Do you think that’s true? Do you think that’s part of the reason that girls have such a tough time?
P. Toscano I guess there are a lot of young girls that watch the show and vote, but I really don’t know. I don’t have an answer for that question.
Moderator Next, is Nancy Dillon with the New York Daily News.
N. Dillon So just quickly going back to the question about being the presumptive front-runner. Do you wish you’d gone in as more of an underdog to, you know, get people to make sure they went in and voted for you?
P. Toscano I kind of feel like I flew under the radar a lot throughout the beginning of the show. You really didn’t see me much in Hollywood week and my first audition wasn’t shown. I was okay with that, because I knew my time was going to come. So I feel like not that I was an underdog, but I feel like I more flew under the radar. What’s that?
N. Dillon Do you wish you’d been more of an underdog just so—?
P. Toscano No, I don’t really wish anything different. I feel like I’m just happy that everything happened the way that it did.
N. Dillon You’ve had so much exposure now, I’m sure you’re getting calls for recording contracts. Are you planning to stay in New York? Will you move out to Hollywood? What are you plans in that regard?
P. Toscano I’m going to go back to New York for a little while, and then I kind of want to be close to my management out here, so I think I may come out here after the tour. We’ll see what happens. I love it out here.
N. Dillon Okay, so your fans in New York might be losing you, it sounds like, huh?
P. Toscano No, I think I probably just travel back and forth. I’m very, very close with my family, so it would be hard to leave them, but I really love it out here, as well.
Moderator Thank you. Next is Hannah Hargrave with Rinnovatoronline.com.
H. Hargrave I don’t know whether you read online, but Steven Tyler actually said he thinks maybe one of the reasons you were voted off was because people were jealous that you have everything. So what do you think about that?
P. Toscano Well that’s very kind of him to say, but he’s an amazing person, and to have him in your corner is really amazing. Especially in the situation that I’m in now to have the support of the three judges, it’s a great feeling, but I really don’t know. I can’t really say. A lot of people are asking me, “Why do you think this happened?” and I really don’t know. But I just know that it was my time to go, and it happened for a reason, and now I feel like I’m going to have a bright future. So I’m not upset. I’m positive right now.
H. Hargrave Who do you think is going to win? Who would you like to win?
P. Toscano I truly love every single one of the contestants. I mean that from the bottom of my heart. I have a special bond with every single one of them, and it’s so hard. You can’t pick one because you truly just don’t know. I’m just rooting for all of them.
Your next question is from Steve Gidlow with Life & Style Weekly.
S. Gidlow Last night after the show it looked like the medic actually walked you off the stage. What happened?
P. Toscano Yes. I was a little—I wasn’t feeling so good. It was a tough moment for me, I was having—while I was singing it was very, very hard for me to get through that song. I was just trying to take deep breaths, and it wasn’t working out so well. I was just getting very light headed. I get a little nervous a lot of the time before I go out on stage, so to be in the position that I was in last night, it was a bit much. It was a little overwhelming for me, so I did have the medic walk me offstage, and I had a little bit of a moment. But they helped me out a lot, and I’m fine now.
S. Gidlow In sort of like five years’ time, can we see you doing movies? I mean, is that something else you’d like to do? You were great in that little Ford thing they did yesterday, I think.
P. Toscano The Ford commercials are definitely so much fun. Yes, but I definitely want to cover all grounds. I definitely want to do movies, I want to do commercials, all that stuff, musicals, everything.
Moderator We have Derek Santos with Reality TV World.
D. Santos So, you mentioned how all the judges came up to you afterwards and said they felt your elimination was a mistake. But I guess the ironic thing there is that they would have had a chance to save you if they hadn’t made the season’s other shocking decision to use the save only a couple of weeks into the finals. So did any of them express any regrets to you about the fact they had already used the save?
P. Toscano No. They said, “I wish we could have helped you out,” but I mean, it was my time. Casey deserved that save, because he wasn’t ready to go and it wasn’t his time to go. He’s such an incredible musician, incredible singer, and beautiful person. It is what it is, and I’m happy to have made it as far as I did.
D. Santos Earlier on the call you said you felt that you had a feeling you were going to be in the bottom three, and that you had “kind of expected it.” Can you elaborate on that a little bit more?
P. Toscano Yes, I just go a lot on feeling, and what’s in my gut. I just felt strange the night before. I can’t really explain it. It happens a lot to me, I have a lot of like premonitions sometimes and usually when I feel something it happens. I don’t know why I had that feeling, because I had a good time at my performance. I don’t have any regrets, so I really don’t know why I felt that way, but it kind of prepared me. However, at that moment, I just was so emotional when it happened.
D. Santos That was before you performed, or after you performed?
P. Toscano Oh, well, throughout that whole performance. When I saw the goodbye—
D. Santos No, I’m sorry, the premonition had been on Wednesday, I thought you said.
P. Toscano Oh, right, the night before. That was after my performance. I said,
“I just, I feel something weird.” So that was after my performance on Wednesday.
Moderator We’ll go to Gary Graff with The Oakland Press.
G. Graff You talked about wanting to go back to New York and then probably come back to LA. You have a little while before you have to be back for the final episode. What—and 19, of course, has the hold on you and everything, but what can you do in this interim musically? Can you get in the studio? Are you going to try to collaborate with people?
P. Toscano Definitely when I’m given the green light to do so I will, but right now I’m just getting prepared for the tour. Just stay sharp and vocally ready. That’s all I can really do right now.
G. Graff Can you, will you be able to watch the show okay and not be grinding your teeth?
P. Toscano No, I’ll be fine. I mean, I try to stay very positive about things, and I love everybody. It’s definitely a fun show to watch. When I’m backstage and I’m watching everybody perform, I’m like, “This is a great show. Like this is awesome. I can’t believe I’m a part of it.” So I’m definitely going to be rooting for everyone when I’m at home.
Moderator Next is Leigh Grogan with The Sacramento Bee.
L. Grogan One of the questions that I wanted to ask you is a little bit off the music category. How was it to meet Gwen Stefani and get to kind of peruse all her fashions and pick something out for your performance on Wednesday?
P. Toscano Gwen was amazing. She was so down to earth. Like when you meet celebrities, you expect to be a little intimidated, and she was just the sweetest thing. She was absolutely gorgeous in person, and she said, “I want you to go out there and feel comfortable.” So she was definitely just a breath of fresh air. She was the sweetest thing in the world. It’s like you don’t meet people like her every day, and I was trying not to get like star struck, because she’s always, she was someone that I’ve looked up to since I was younger.
Moderator We have Lucy Almanza with La Prensa.
L. Almanza Like I said, everybody’s really noticing how you’re one of the favorites, and really upset that you had to leave. What is your next move? Are you planning to record an album and will we see you on the tour coming up?
P. Toscano I definitely see an album in my future, but I’m just really—just want to get ready for the tour and just stay mentally prepared and just really—because the tour is going to be a lot, so I’ve got to be physically ready, mentally ready, and it’s just going to be a lot of fun. Then hopefully an album will be in my future.
L. Almanza What kind of music are we going to hear from you? Do you have any idea yet, or any planning in it?
P. Toscano Definitely pop with an R&B influence, definitely those big power ballads and those fun dance tracks, as well.
Moderator Next is Andrea Dresdale with ABC News Radio.
A. Dresdale We’ve been talking about how there were a lot of celebrities online talking about how angry they were that you were voted off. But there were also a lot of people giving comments like, “I’m done with Idol. I’m never going to watch the show again now.” So what’s your message to people who say that they don’t want to watch the show any more now that you’re off?
P. Toscano I thank everybody for the support. It is what it is. This show has opened so many doors for me, so I can’t really say anything negative about what happened last night, because I’m still a lot further than I was, you know? So I’m just looking at everything in a positive light.
A. Dresdale But I mean would you encourage people to continue watching the show even though—
P. Toscano Absolutely. Yes, absolutely. The show is great. It happens. Everybody’s going to get voted off; there’s only one winner. So you just have to be positive about the situation and move forward. So I definitely think people should continue to watch.
Moderator We are out of time. Pia, do you have any closing remarks?
P. Toscano Just I thank everybody for their support and for sticking behind me and believing in me, because, I mean, this is my dream. So my fans made it possible, so thank you.
Moderator Ladies and gentlemen, that does conclude our conference for today. Thank you for your participation and for using AT&T Executive Teleconference.