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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 Bowl. But the scrutiny has never been greater because of the judge overhaul in the wake of original star Simon Cowell’s departure that played out in the blogosphere over the summer. Overall, new judge Steven Tyler is getting good grades for his debut as is new (old) showrunner Nigel Lythgoe for focusing more on the good singers and less on the sideshows. As for the ratings, the question was “How much down will the show return without Simon?” We just got that answered. In the fast nationals, the two-hour American Idol Season 10 premiere drew 26.1 million viewers and a 9.7 rating/26 share among adults 18-49. That was down 13% in viewers and 18% in the 18-49 demo from last year’s premiere and the reality veteran’s lowest-rated season opener since the show’s inauspicious debut in summer 2002. (historical data below) It also represents the show’s biggest ratings drop between seasons. The numbers are expected to get adjusted up in the finals, so the demo decline is projected to be 16%. (The decline is bigger in the demo than in the total viewership because the Idol audience skewed older this year. Hey, one of the judges, Steven Tyler, is 62.) Even … Read More »

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‘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 (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 »

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Nigel Lythgoe Inks Deal To Return To ‘Idol’

Nellie Andreeva

It looks like Fox will be able to confirm shortly at least one new member of the American Idol team for next season, returning executive producer Nigel Lythgoe whose deal has been completed and is expected to be announced tomorrow. At Fox’s TCA presentation on Monday, the network’s entertainment chairman Peter Rice stated that ”the only thing I an tell you with absolute certainty is there are no signed deals with anyone on either side of the camera who wasn’t on the show last year,” referring to judges as well as Lythgoe.  Read More »

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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 deals with anyone on either side of the camera who wasn’t on the show last year,” he said, referring to judges as well as returning executive producer Nigel Lythgoe. Rice did confirm that Ellen DeGeneres met with him at the beginning of June. ”We talked about the season and her feelings about the season, the idea that she wasn’t comfortable and that it was not a good fit for her,” he said. “I tried to persuade her that it would be different in the future, but we ultimately came to an agreement. We were going to begin looking for new judges anyway, because Simon was leaving, so as that was going to play out over the summer, we came to an agreement to go to her and say: we can’t replace you, or we can move on without you.  [DeGeneres is in the middle of a 2-year deal with Idol.] That’s where we got to last week. We felt confident that we could come up with a panel that didn’t include Ellen as a judge, and  at the same time we knew we were coming here on Monday. We felt it was disingenuous to sit here and talk about Ellen being … Read More »

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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 »

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