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 »
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 »
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 (Two And A Half Men and Lizzie McGuire) and been a presenter on countless music awards shows. So there’s no indication what kind of judge he would make. But music industry types I’ve spoken with stress that performers like Tyler often have a hard time openly criticizing other performers, especially up-and-comers. They find it hard to imagine he’ll fill the Simon Cowell “cruel to be kind” role on the show. As things stand now, Tyler will be joining Jennifer Lopez on American Idol next season. Nigel Lythgoe a few days ago denied unconfirmed reports circulating that J-Lo may lose the job because of diva demands after she was offered the gig and accepted it. Fox et al would have to be idiots not to realize that asking J-Lo onto the show would mean inviting an entourage in tow. Meanwhile, Michael Ferrel, the new CEO of the American Idol producer CKX, said Fox expects to announce the replacement judges shortly after Labor Day on September 6th. Meanwhile, CKX still has no new deal for the 10th season of the show and negotiations between its 19 Entertainment with Fox and Fremantle are continuing. It expects Fox to renew its American Idol deal by the end of Q4 or early 2011 at … Read More »
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, whose 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 »