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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, he professed that he hadn’t seen a full episode of Idol yet this season, just a three-minute recap last week. He did make a quick recovery. “From what I’ve seen and from what I’ve heard, it all seems to be going well, I always thought that would be the case,” he said. “What I was more concerned about was the ratings falling off a cliff, meaning that that the whole genre is now over. But people are still excited about these shows, whether Dancing With the Stars, which has gotten better over the years, or America’s Got Talent.” He ultimately returned to the original question about Tyler and JLo, saying “I think they’ve done a good job.”

There was a lot of talk about who will join Cowell on the judging panel of The X Factor this fall. “We haven’t made up our minds up yet”, Cowell said, adding that he expects to make the announcement in 3-4 weeks. He didn’t comment on the persistent rumor that the pretty 27-year-old British singer Cheryl Cole, a judge on the U.K. version of The X Factor, will also be on the Fox show, but said that he is looking for judges whom “the … Read More »

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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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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 manager Benny Medina (whom she once fired) who first orchestrated the meeting with the Idol producers in June, and, by the end of July, J-Lo accepted the offer to be a new Idol judge. Since then, she, Medina and her producing partner Simon Fields have been trying to milk the gig for all they could get from the movie studio and broadcast network/television programmer to further her stalled career in the film/TV area. One bargaining chip they had, I can report, is that Simon Cowell already asked JLo to be a judge on the U.S. version of his The X Factor when it debuts on Fox in Fall 2011.

Among JLo’s demands, “she was angling for an overall deal at Fox, including a put picture, to keep the movie career going. But Fox said no,” one insider tells me. “In the old days, these were called a ‘vanity deal’ for good reason. They simply don’t exist today. Will Smith doesn’t have put pictures.” Another informant says she also was angling for TV development projects to replace the ones that had gone by the wayside when her career grew cold. Also, Team JLo was pissed that … Read More »

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