Reinventing ‘Idol’: Will The Reality Veteran Finish Up In The Ratings Without Simon?

Nellie Andreeva

On Thursday night, the American Idol episode that determined the show’s 13 finalists drew 25.3 million viewers and a 8.2/24 in adults 18-49, up a whopping 30% from the comparable night last year. After starting off down double digits from … Read More »

Comments 23

Simon Cowell On New ‘Idol’ Judges: “I Think They’ve Done A Good Job’

Nellie Andreeva

The always suave Simon Cowell made a rare misstep during a conference call today about his new Fox reality series The X Factor. When he was asked what he thought about new American Idol judges Steven Tyler and Jennifer Lopez, … Read More »

Comments (17)

RATINGS RAT RACE: ‘Idol’ Down But Still Dominates; ‘Live To Dance’, ‘Chase’ Crushed

Nellie Andreeva

A lot is riding on American Idol at Fox, which usually turns from also-ran to a ratings leader overnight when the reality juggernaut hits the air. The pressure is not as great this season and the network has the Super … Read More »

Comments (12)

How Was ‘American Idol’ Without Simon?

Nellie Andreeva

For the past year, since Simon Cowell announced last January that he would leave American Idol to focus on bringing The X Factor to the U.S., there has been relentless speculation whether the veteran reality show would survive without its … Read More »

Comments 41

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 »

Comments (9)

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 »

Comments 25

Fox To Announce ‘Idol’ Judges Wednesday

Nellie Andreeva

American Idol host Ryan Seacrest will unveil the new panel of judges for the Fox reality show on Wednesday, September 22nd, at the Forum, the network said. With so much speculation about Idol‘s judges all summer, there is not much suspense left for what is expected to be an official … Read More »

Comments (9)

JLo Getting Overall Fox Deal Along With $12M ‘American Idol’ Judging Job — But Her Most Diva Demands Were Refused

EXCLUSIVE: I’ve learned that Jennifer Lopez had been negotiating for a guaranteed “go” motion picture and TV pilots at Fox to accompany an asked-for $15 million American Idol judging paycheck. But the powers-that-be who produce Idol – Fox, Fremantle, and 19 Entertainment — balked. It was her … Read More »

Comments 193

Fox Confirms Kara DioGuardi Exits ‘Idol’

Nellie Andreeva

Fox just issued a statement confirming that Kara DioGuardi won’t be returning to American Idol next season. News comes as Jennifer Lopez is finalizing a deal to join the Fox series and amid speculation that Idol might be reverting to the original three-judge format. Also closing in on a deal for the reality series is Aerosmith frontman Steven Tyler. And executive producer Nigel Lythgoe said last weekend he’s still trying to land Elton John. So Randy Jackson will be the only returning panelist  after Simon Cowell, Ellen DeGeneres, and now DioGuardi have gone. Read More »

Comments 31

‘Idol’ Still Trying To Get Elton John As Judge

Ray Richmond is contributing to Deadline’s Emmy coverage.

EXCLUSIVE: Is American Idol executive producer Nigel Lythgoe unhappy with who’s going to be the show’s next two judges? It sure sounds that way. I caught up with him at the 8th annual BAFTA/LA Tea Party in Century City today and asked him to confirm that Steven Tyler and Jennifer Lopez will replace Simon Cowell and Ellen DeGeneres. “I must say, I really do love Elton John. He’s a huge favorite of mine,” Lythgoe replied to me. The producer added that Elton’s packed schedule is “always the problem”. Then Lythgoe revealed what strategy Idol is using on Elton to convince him to clear it and come on the show. “It depends on whether [he] wants to give back.” As Deadline Hollywood has been continually reporting, everybody connected to Idol has made no secret of the fact that Elton John has always been their first choice to replace Cowell. But no deal is in the offing not just because of the musician’s touring commitments but also because of his astronomical asking price. Which is why the musician’s UK publicist Gary Farrow told Deadline London Editor Tim Adler in late July that “There’s more chance of me fucking you than Elton being on U.S. Idol.” But it’s clear Lythgoe is still trying.

Lythgoe, who left Idol and then recently returned, also blamed Simon Cowell for Ellen DeGeneres not returning as an Idol judge next season. “I’m sorry she’s gone, to be honest with you,” he told me, “because I think there’s a place for Ellen DeGeneres on American Idol. And that is being the voice of the people. She wasn’t given a fair opportunity to serve that function. Read More »

Comments 128

‘American Idol’ Deal Done For Steven Tyler

I’ve just confirmed from sources close to the singer that the “deal is done” for Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler to be one of the new judges despite having very little TV experience. He has played himself on a few tube episodes … Read More »

Comments 46

Geffen Coulda (Shoulda) Been ‘Idol’ Judge

EXCLUSIVE: Fox, Fremantle, and 19 Entertainment are locking in their American Idol judges with each passing day. But I’ve learned that the show really wanted but didn’t snag the best judge possible — David Geffen. My sources say that, about 4 months ago, … Read More »

Comments 28

TCA: Fox Addresses ‘American Idol’ Rumors & More From The Network’s Exec Session

Nellie Andreeva

Anticipating an avalanche of American Idol-related questions, Fox Broadcasting’s entertainment chairman Peter Rice made an opening statement at the top of the network’s executive session. “The only thing I an tell you with absolute certainty is there are no signed … Read More »

Comments (10)

TCA: No ‘Idol’ Judge News On Monday

Nellie Andreeva

Despite speculation about the new judges on American Idol reaching fever pitch, word is that Fox will not make any announcements at its TCA presentation Monday as previously anticipated. On the other hand, new ABC Entertainment Group president Paul Lee, who had been a question mark for ABC’s TCA session … Read More »

Comments (6)

JENNIFER LOPEZ IS NEW ‘IDOL’ JUDGE! Closed Deal This Week; Replaces Ellen Who Wanted Out of Contract: “It’s Not Been Fun”

EXCLUSIVE UPDATE 6:30 PM: We’ve just learned the backstory of how Ellen DeGeneres bowed out of American Idol and who will be the new judge taking her place. It’s Jennifer Lopez, JENNIFER LOPEZ 2whose singing and acting career has been on the skids after her recent movie failed at the box office in the spring and she was dropped by her record company Sony Music Epic Records this past winter. We hear her manager Benny Medina (whom she once fired) orchestrated the meeting with the American Idol producers a month ago, and negotiations have been ongoing ever since. We’ve learned a deal was closed earlier this week under the utmost secrecy. Today’s news came shortly after Nigel Lythgoe returned to Idol as an executive producer. He has vowed to shake up the show’s team of judges in the wake of the departure of Simon Cowell, publicly stating that he always thought a panel of three and not 4 made the most sense.

Still to be decided is who will replace Simon Cowell. Everyone associated with the show wants Elton John, but we hear he’s asking for too much money and has too many touring commitments he can’t get out of. (Denials That Justin Or Elton Judging ‘Idol’) 2ND UPDATE: Tonight, unconfirmed reports say Idol has offered Cowell’s judge seat to Steven Tyler. 3RD UPDATE: And another unconfirmed report claimed judge Kara DioGuardi has been fired to bring the panel count down to just 3, not 4.

As for Ellen Degeneres, we’re told she wanted off the show two months ago and complained that Idol producers “couldn’t control Cowell”, one insider tells us. Least of all Cecile Frot-Coutaz, the CEO of FremantleMedia North America. “Cecile is doing X Factor with Simon, so she’s in his back pocket.” DeGeneres and her reps went in to to see Fox Broadcasting’s Entertainment Chairman Peter Rice and Alternative TV President Mike Darnell and asked to be let out of the year left on her contract. “She’s not comfortable. She’s not happy. It’s not been fun,” Fox was told.  But Rice and Darnell responded that, with Cowell leaving, “We can’t let you out now because it would be bad for our franchise. Give us a chance to figure out who we could get.” In the end, all the show’s producers – Fox, Fremantle, and 19 Entertainment – worked it out. “Peter Rice was awesome,” an insider tells us. “Ellen is thrilled and relieved.” We’ve learned that serious conversations took place between Idol and Jessica Simpson to replace Ellen. But once Jennifer Lopez was locked in this week, the DeGeneres announcement went out. Read More »

Comments 394

Denials That Justin Or Elton Judging ‘Idol’

2ND UPDATE: Deadline has learned that representatives for both Justin Timberlake and Elton John are denying there’s anything real behind that published rumor that both musicians are in talks to replace Simon Cowell as a … Read More »

Comments (6)

Nigel Lythgoe Returns to ‘Idol’ As EP

Nellie Andreeva

He was the first major member of the American idol team to depart the show. Now former executive producer Nigel Lythgoe is finalizing a deal to return for the upcoming 10th season as the top-rated reality series is looking to … Read More »

Comments (19)