New American Idol Crew Meets The Press: 'We're Taking It Up a Notch'

Steven Tyler perhaps sums it up best when assaying the upcoming 10th – and rather different – season of America’s most watched TV program: “Idol is taking it up a notch. No more, no less.”

Among the changes American Idol has undergone since staging its underwhelming ninth season: Following much falderah, Simon Cowell has moved on, to shepherd the U.S. version of The X Factor (premiering this fall on Fox); both Kara DioGuardi and Ellen DeGeneres also have vacated the dais; Nigel Lythgoe is back as an executive producer; and contestants will face new performance challenges throughout their journey.

Meeting the press for a 40-minute panel discussion at the Television Critics Association winter press tour on Tuesday, here is what the judges and producers had to say about the “new”  Idol.

THE JUDGES | “We’ve got the rock legend, we’ve got the triple threat…. We’re gonna be good,” last judge standing Randy Jackson said with a nod to newcomers Steven Tyler and Jennifer Lopez. Speaking of “Jenny from the Block,” Randy says she’s at her judging best when her urban roots come bursting forth: “I like that boogey-down Bronx girl!”

J.Lo said that she has been a fan of past Idol seasons, and fancied herself a “backseat judge” while watching at home. Now that she’s doing it for real, “It’s more fun that I thought it’d be,” she raved. (Tyler shared an anecdote about catching Lopez’s The Back-Up Plan during a plane flight, at which point he decided, “I wanna sit next to that!” And now he shall, lucky guy.)

Overseeing this transitional phase is host Ryan Seacrest, who very much looks forward to that first live show (airing January 19). “I’m inspired by the new life here, and I love it. Simon and I had a banter… but this is a whole new dynamic. It will hopefully be a bit of a circus.”

THE JUDGING | Lopez balked at delineating just how she, Tyler and Jackson will dissect each singer, saying, “You have to tune in to get the full scope [of that]. But we are very honest and in the moment with what we have to do.”

As for the question that refuses to die – “Who will fill Simon Cowell’s role as the “mean” one?” — Randy maintained that as needed, “You hear that from all three of us. If [a performance] is terrible, it’s terrible.” Nigel added, “They bring more of a critique [than Simon], instead of, ‘Pack your suitcase and go home.’”

As Lopez explained, “We bring a different perspective… we just do. We’re artists. We’ve been up there, we’ve been through the ranks.”

THE JUDGED | Confirming that which is hinted at by a 28-minute screener shown to the press, the talent for Season 10 is, at the very least, incredibly promising. “Some of them… are absolutely fabulous,” said EP Ken Warwick. “That’s great for us, and hopefully great for the public.” Added Randy, “Trust me, we’ve got some heat this season, and better talent than we’ve had in other seasons.”

THE RUMORS | Lythgoe set the record straight on talk that there will be a “Vegas round” per se this season. Although the contestants did make a road trip to Sin City, it was strictly to get a bit of Love — as in the Beatles-themed revue playing at The Mirage. From there, they were presented with the challenge of learning a Fab Four song overnight. That excursion “just happened to be in Vegas,” said EP Cecile Frot-Coutaz.

The purpose of such challenges (as well as taking viewers inside a communal “Idol House” where hopefuls will cohabitate) is to “have viewers know contestants better by the time we hit that big stage,” said Frot-Coutaz.

Lythgoe tackled the topic of wannabes being able to croon their own tunes, hedging that such instances will be limited. “We’ve kind of always discouraged it, because when a kid sings a song that no one’s heard of before, we suspect it’s not going to be very good,” he pointed out.

YOUR NEXT AMERICAN IDOL | Addressing the age-old knock that Idol in recent years has only christened “white guys with guitars,” Frot-Coutaz threw that one back into the public’s lap: “Our job, collectively, is to serve up the best and most diverse group of 12 kids, and then the audience votes for who they like best,” she said. “That’s the show.”

Lopez says that what it all will come down to is, “Who can make it under the pressure of the show?” And her advice to the singers? “You’ve got to make our hair stand up. Every time you get up there, you’ve got to leave our jaw dropped.”

Are you ready for the new season of Idol?

Comments (11)

  • Is Slezak not coming to TV Line after all? He’s had no postings so far and others are posting about Idol…

    Comment by Pagey – January 11, 2011 12:46 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • Have no fear, Slezak is joining the team in time for the IDOL premiere ;)

      Read TVLine’s ABOUT US page for more:

      Comment by Matt Webb Mitovich – January 11, 2011 12:53 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
      • Thanks for the update! Not that I minded you posting ;)

        Comment by Pagey – January 11, 2011 01:12 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I, too, am a huge Slezak fan faithfully following him over to TVline in hopes of getting my usual fantastic, hilarious, and obsessive Idol coverage! It wouldn’t be a season without him! Looking forward to it….

    Comment by MSD – January 11, 2011 02:20 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Yawn…This show is a huge part of what’s wrong with the music industry. Jennifer Lopez is a hack and Steven hasn’t made a good record since 1979.

    Comment by Jamie – January 11, 2011 03:45 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • that’s so cool. My boyfriend thinks the same as I do. He is eight years older than me, lol. We met online at agelessdates.c“om a nice and free place for younger women and
    older men, or older women and younger men, to interact with each other. Maybe you wanna check out or tell your friends.

    Comment by sarare – January 11, 2011 11:12 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I can’t wait for the new season and Slezak’s coverage of course! :) Let’s hope all the changes are for the best, we don’t need another boring season…

    Comment by Tereza – January 12, 2011 12:33 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Can I possibly express how little (read: not at all) that I care about anything Idol? In fact, I’m gonna make it my mission to not endure one single minute of this farce this season.

    Three bigger losers (make that four, counting Seacrest), you’ll never find.

    Comment by Jason – January 12, 2011 06:16 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Whitout Simon telling everybody how much they suck… what’s the point?

    He’s gotten much more softer lately though…

    Comment by Federico – January 12, 2011 07:57 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • This panel won me over! Richard Tyler took me by complete surprise, and I now adore him. His comments were charming, accurate, and the right amount restrained. He teased pretty young girl contestants, while also employing fatherly boundaries. Lopez was sweeter than I had expected, and she definitely has a problem saying “NO”. But Jackson doesn’t, as he brings loser auditions to a halt.

    There’s only one thing wrong. I sense trouble within the panel. It seemed as if Jennifer and Steven have no connection. I think Jennifer is accustomed to claiming the #1 spot. But for me, Steven Tyler, as an IDOL judge, is more intriguing. All in all, I think it’s a winner panel, but I need to see them interconnect.

    Another good change this season is not having the sight-seeing tours. The show seems to be focused on drawing emotional TV viewers. And the surrounding scenery just doesn’t bring me to tears.
    Beryl Shaw –

    Comment by Beryl Shaw – January 20, 2011 02:58 PM PDT  Reply To This Post

    In my drawing portfolio, I have three tree representations: ‘The Howling Tree’, ‘The Wicked Tree’, and ‘The Sweet Tree’. I believe IDOL Season 10 will be ‘The Sweet Season’. America has endured enough wicked seasons by way of Simon Cowell’s pin-pointed and cruel remarks, even if accurately based. Cowell may have been more than grand as the founder of this competition. But as a judge, he brought forth panel fracas. And all that that commotion achieved, was to draw our attention away from the singing challenge some contestants waited years to be a part of. Viewers ask, “Who will the mean judge be?” I say, “There won’t be one.” Our new judges will mentor contestants, giving them coaching they will use for the rest of their lives. And besides; it’s not as if we have a wimpy judging team. By the mere fact that these stars are on the panel is a salute to their greatness.

    Beryl Shaw –

    Comment by Beryl Shaw – January 24, 2011 11:21 AM PDT  Reply To This Post

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