Now that Randy Jackson, Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler have been officially confirmed as the new “American Idol” judges, let’s focus on what else is going to be different about the Fox juggernaut when it returns in January.
As first reported in The Times in August, music producer Jimmy Iovine, chariman of Interscope Geffen A&M Records, has joined the program as an in-house mentor. No more rotating mentors — hear that, Miley Cyrus?
Iovine and Interscope producers, such as Timbaland, will work with the contestants every week to help them grow in their genre. Contestants no longer will be forced to put their country twist on the Bee Gees or their rock edge to Dolly Parton songs.
“They’e going to stay within the genre,” executive producer Nigel Lythgoe said. “The styles of music will be decades rather than individual artists’ music. They’re going to develop what they are good at.”
By working with Interscope, Lythgoe said he hoped the focus of the show would be to develop successful pop artists, like Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood.
“You look back at the history, the American Idols, who are really there now? What is in our wake?” Lythgoe said. “You have Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood, and then you start running out of Idols. We have got to go back to creating an American Idol. That’s what we’re here to do, and that’s what we need to do.”
To that end, Iovine said he and his producers will work with the contestants to make the music “better and more interesting” than in past seasons, “developing the young artists the way they would anyone who signs with the label.”
“We’re going to bring our best game at Interscope,” he said. “Our producers, our creativity and our enthusiasm so that what you see on this show is something you’ve never seen musically. I can guarantee that.”
Lythgoe and Iovine spoke to reporters outside of the Forum in Inglewood, where the last round of auditions were being held Wednesday. They were accompanied by host Ryan Seacrest, the three judges, executive producer Ken Warwick, and Fox President of Alternative Entertainment Mike Darnell.
The panel kicked off the press conference by quickly batting down reports that negotiations with the new judges, particularly Lopez, had been difficult.
“I’m kind of used to it, after as many years, I don’t even wanna say I’ve been in this business,” Lopez said of her alleged diva demands. “I was calming the Fox people down. … We know what the truth is. The truth always shows itself in who you are. To be honest, I wasn’t worried.”
The truth is that in addition to her $12-million salary for her work on “Idol,” Lopez has a first-look development deal with Fox Films to develop TV shows and movies.
“This was a big part of this as well,” Lopez said. “I’m very excited.”
Asked who would replace Simon Cowell as the tough voice on the panel, Jackson said, “I don’t think there will be.”
Lopez said she believed in “tough love” but “I don’t think I ever — as an artist myself — I could never be cruel to another artist. I think there are better ways to say things and still get your point across.”
Tyler said he was steeling himself to judge young talent.
“I”m sure we’re going to send some people home with a broken heart, but with everything we’ve been through in our careers, and living vicariously through young talent, it’s gonna be hard,” he said. “But also fun because they’re gonna step up to the plate, and so are we.”
Jackson said he felt that “everything worked out the best it could” after the departures of Cowell, Ellen DeGeneres and Kara DioGuardi.
“Today it’s about us, but it’s really about those kids,” Jackson said. “Those Idols that we find, how talented they are and how successful they are.”
— Maria Elena Fernandez
Photos, from top: Steven Tyler, Jennifer Lopez and Randy Jackson at the Forum in Inglewood on Wednesday. Credit: Genaro Molina /Los Angeles Times. Tyler, Lopez, Jackson and Ryan Seacrest at the Forum. Credit: Genaro Molina /Los Angeles Times
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