Mike Darnell Explains ‘Idol’ Format Changes

Nellie Andreeva

UPDATE: At a press conference following the brief Idol judge unveiling ceremony, Fox’s president of alternative programming Mike Darnell dismissed speculation that negotiations with new judge Jennifer Lopez took so long because of special demands by the singer/actress. “There were no diva demands,” he said. “These were easy, comfortable deals.” However, unlike the pact for new judge Steve Tyler, Lopez’s deal for Idol does include a first-look film and TV deal at Fox for her production company. However, later, a top Fox executive confirmed Nikki’s reporting that Team Lopez did indeed make big demands. “But they’re supposed to,” the exec chortled.

Idol producers shed some light on the the upcoming season, which feels like a reboot with the 2 new judges, plus new in-house mentor Interscope’s Jimmy Iovine, newly returning executive producer Nigel Lythgoe, and new music partner Universal. The producers went out of their way to stress that there will be no judge taking over the villain role played on the show by Simon Cowell for the first 9 seasons. “It’s not about role playing, it’s about [judges] playing themselves,” Lythgoe said. But later a Fox exec explained that Iovine, a music industry veteran, would fit the bill by giving the young singers a dose of brutal honesty when he advised them and assessed their performances in offstage sessions that will be shown during the broadcast. Iovine’s role, therefore, will be crucial to the show’s dynamic. When asked how Idol will deal with not having Cowell, Lythgoe responded: “You obviously haven’t met Jimmy.”

Sources told Nikki as far back as January that Idol was looking at the 56-year-old Iovine, the inspiration for Eminem’s song “Jimmy Crack Corn” (which also features 50 Cent). The deal was sealed when Idol’s 19 Entertainment entered into a multiyear agreement with Universal Music Group to have Interscope Geffen A&M market, promote, and distribute albums globally from American Idol’s finalists and winning contestants across a broad array of retail and new media platforms. Iovine has been chairman of Interscope-Geffen-A&M since 2001. He was born in Brooklyn-born and began as a recording engineer in the mid-1970s working with John Lennon and Bruce Springsteen. He went on to produce albums for U2, Tom Petty Read More »

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IT’S OFFICIAL: Fox Announces Steven Tyler & Jennifer Lopez As New ‘Idol’ Judges

Nellie Andreeva

 Talk about an anticlimax. After weeks of speculation and spoilers, Fox officially intro’ed new American Idol judges Steven Tyler and Jennifer Lopez this morning in a brief ceremony hosted by Ryan Seacrest at the Forum in Inglewood. The two are joining original judge Randy Jackson. Additionally, record executive and producer Jimmy Iovine will serve as an in-house mentor to the contestants on the upcoming 10th season of Idol. Technically, Lopez replaces Ellen DeGeneres who asked to be released from her 2-year contract after the end of last season. Her wish was granted in early August. Lopez’s Idol judge gig is part of a $12-million salary and overal Fox deal which Lopez and her team negotiated over the summer as Nikki reported exclusively earlier this month as well as first scooped that Lopez was to be an Idol judge. Today, Fox confirmed the first-look deal for her Nuyorican Prods. with both Twentieth Century Fox Films and Fox Broadcasting Co.

“Jennifer is a true entertainment powerhouse who has made a tremendous impact on pop culture,” said Jim Gianopulos and Tom Rothman, chairmen and CEOs of Fox Filmed Entertainment. Added Fox entertainment chairman Peter Rice, “From the worlds of dance and music to television, films and fashion, she is a global superstar with iconic and captivating style, along with impressive insight on how to reach and move audiences worldwide.” Read More »

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