Check Out Our New Look

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 signature star. As Idol launched its 10th season tonight with new judges Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler and new Wednesday-Thursday airing pattern, we’re finally starting to get answers. Here is an excerpt from TVLine’s Idol expert Michael Slezak’s first take on the premiere. (Check TVLine in the morning for his recap):  

“Admittedly, night one of Idol 10.0 wasn’t its most thrilling installment of all-time ever, but the show’s increased emphasis on truly talented singers — and its decision not to belabor audition packages from the talentless, the deluded, and the attention-craving — made for a zippy, feel-good 120 minutes. And while the season premiere lacked Simon Cowell’s addictively salty bitchery, it benefited greatly from Steven Tyler’s stream-of-righteous critiques. Yeah, sometimes it takes a beat to translate the hoots and howls and adjectives emanating from the Aerosmith frontman’s giant mouth, but he’s already exhibiting solid instincts when faced with young, unpolished talent. His “I wasn’t feelin’ the pizazz” feedback to big-voiced-but-soulless 15-year-old Kenize Palmer was spot on, even if he eventually caved and said “yes” to giving her a Golden Ticket.”

And here is what American Idol creator/executive … Read More »

Comments 41

TCA: No Villain On ‘Idol’ This Season

From Ray Richmond, who has been contributing to Deadline Hollywood’s TCA coverage:
The hot new (read: Simon Cowell-less) American Idol got rolled out by Fox on Tuesday morning at the TCA confab in Pasadena, with new judges J-Lo and Steven Tyler and new/old showrunner Nigel Lythgoe but without a man named Simon, the one named Cowell, arguably the nasty voice that has long stirred this top-rated drink for a phenomenon that enters its 10th season on Jan. 19.

First question of the day: Does anyone take it personally that everyone presumes there is a Hummer-size hole in the show to fill due to the looming absence of Simon’s bracing venom? “No,” insisted Randy Jackson, the only returning judge and now the undeniable veteran. “We don’t take it personally. Of course we love him and miss him, but what we’ve added with these new superstars is a lot. We’ve got a rock legend in Steven and a triple-threat in J-Lo.” This marked the first time in a public forum that someone has expressed “love” for Cowell.

For his part, exec producer Lythgoe expressed little concern over “Idol” continuing on its merry Number One way. “It’s an entirely new cast, and an entirely new show, but you need to evolve after you’ve been on the air for a decade, so it’s time,” Lythgoe said. “Simon’s leaving allows us to be creative and to shake things up.” Agreed exec producer Cecile Frot-Coutaz: “It was important … Read More »

Comments (14)

TV TEASER: Fox’s ‘American Idol’

By | Wednesday December 8, 2010 @ 11:53am PST
Nellie Andreeva

Fox has released a new trailer for the upcoming 10th season of American Idol. It showcases the two new judges, complete with Steven Tyler’s trademark falsetto-esque scream and Jennifer Lopez reminiscing about growing up in the Bronx. American Idol returns on January 19 and will air for the first time on Wednesdays and Thursdays. The biggest format change is the elimination of the round of 24, with the top 12 locked in at the end of Hollywood week.

Comments (4)

No Behind-the-Scenes ‘Idol’ Drama For Now

Nellie Andreeva

Despite a red-hot Glee, Fox’s fall lineup is shakier than expected as the network’s new series largely underperformed. That’s why a strong American Idol is crucial for Fox’s hopes to claim another season ratings win. But the talent show juggernaut finished last season at a record low, and lost its signature star Simon Cowell, and then embarked on a judges search that became a public spectacle. But now I’m hearing that, two weeks into the audition process for Season 10, the situation on the show seems to be settling down with no major controversies on the immediate horizon. Read More »

Comments (7)

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)

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 shake off a lackluster Season 9 and to prepare for its first season without Simon Cowell on the judging panel. Lythgoe is expected to serve as an executive producer alongside Ken Warwick, who has been running Idol for the past 2 years, creator Simon Fuller and Cecile Frot-Coutaz. Lythgoe’s surprise exit from the show in the summer of 2008 was followed by the departure of Paula Abdul last summer over a salary dispute and the recent exit of Cowell, who will be launching X Factor on Fox in fall 2011.

Lythgoe, who helped build Idol into a reality powerhouse, has stayed in the Idol family with a deal at 19 Entertainment, which co-produces Idol with FremantleMedia. He also serves as executive producer/judge on 19′s Fox series So You Think You Can Dance. Because of his long-time Idol experience and his Cowell-like role on SYTYCD as an acerbic British judge, there has been some speculation that CAA-repped Lythgoe would be considered for Cowell’s spot but I hear his deal is for his EP services only. As for the high-profile search for Cowell’s replacement, it is still going on, and the network may not be able to lock in the new judge by … Read More »

Comments (19)