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'American Idol' votes routed to Wash. pizzeria

PORT ANGELES, Wash. — The phones were ringing off the hook at Gordy's Pizza & Pasta in Port Angeles last Wednesday, but the callers weren't looking for the eatery's signature fettucine.

They were trying to vote for their favorite singing contestants on the hit Fox TV show "American Idol."

It's not clear why the calls were routed to Gordy's for two hours Wednesday night, the Peninsula Daily News reported. The number the show advertised for voters — 855-443-6411 — is not similar to the number the pizzeria has had for the past 50 years.

According to the show, viewers nationwide cast more than 71 million votes Wednesday night.

The restaurant's owner, Randy Sexton, said his staff was inundated with calls — "a frenzy of ring, ring, ring, ring, ring" — and answered every one as if it were a customer. He hopes the snafu gets fixed before next Wednesday's episode.

A spokeswoman for "American Idol," now in its 13th season said efforts were being made to fix the problem.

Sexton said a mistake may have been made — possibly a keyboard typo — when voters' calls were routed through AT&T.

Most of the calls seemed to be from the East Coast, he said.

Sandy Bennett, who set up and manages the show's voting system, did not have an explanation, according to an email she sent to Wave Broadband in an effort to address the problem.

Bennett is the general manager of Los Angeles-based Telescope, "a provider of audience participation, consumer engagement and social television solutions," according to its website.

She suggested blocking out-of-state calls to Gordy's during show nights, subject to Sexton's approval.

"The purpose of this is to prevent the misdials/routed calls from flooding Mr. Sexton's lines and interrupting his business while we continue to work on investigating the cause," Bennett said.

Bennett also suggested placing a trap on the line to detect the number that "American Idol" voters are actually dialing.

"While they say they are calling 855-443-6411, it's quite possible it's something similar and is somehow tied to the pizza company," Bennett wrote.

Sexton was not happy about the prospect of another night of frenzied phone calls from "American Idol" fans. The show has 12 episodes remaining this season.

"I have three months of potential challenge if they don't figure out how to reroute or unroute calls in a different way," he said.

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