'American Idol': Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler confirmed at last
[This blog post has been updated with more details from Wednesday's announcement.]
"American Idol" host Ryan Seacrest finally unveiled the show's new judges -- aged rocker squirt Steven Tyler, and pop star/ former Fox "In Living Color" Fly Girl dancer Jennifer Lopez -- to a crowd of "Idol" auditioners and press Wednesday morning.
This came as a surprise to no one, given that their names had been the only ones left on the short list for weeks and weeks.
A far bigger surprise was someone else who you're going to see a lot of on the show when it enters its 10th season in January, but who was not trotted out by Seabiscuit during Wednesday's Judge Unveiling Lollapalooza, which was held at the Forum, near Los Angeles, where the show's producers are were also holding the final round of initial auditions for "Idol's" upcoming season. That's called "amortizing your costs."
That person is Interscope Geffen A&M Records chairman Jimmy Iovine, who has been named the show's permanent in-house mentor.
As part of "Idol's" deal with Universal Music Group, Interscope Geffen A&M -- IGA&M to friends -- will market, promote and distribute albums globally from Idolette finalists and winners across a broad array of retail and new media platforms. That new deal starts in 2011.
It was Iovine who sat, front and center in the "American Idol" panel at a news conference with reporters, held immediately after the Judge Unveiling Lollapalooza. And Iovine who seemed very much in charge during that Q&A session, at which it was revealed that guest mentors are out, themed weeks are out, and the show will become much more serious, focusing very much on Iovine as he works closely with each aspiring singer to mold them into a marketable, money-making commodity.
So country singers, for instance, will no longer be asked to sing rock tunes and will instead focus on working with Iovine in their genre of choice.
"It's important to develop what they are good at," said "Idol's" returning executive producer Nigel Lythgoe, who'd been off the show a few seasons but is now back
Practically speaking, this will change radically what you're going to see on screen. Country singers, for instance, will no longer be asked to sing rock tunes, and will instead focus on working with Iovine to develop themselves as a brand in their genre of choice.
When one reporter said "it sounds like you're going in a bit more serious direction," Lythgoe responded: "I think it's fair to say that, in moving to Interscope, we looked back at the history" and tried to pinpoint which "Idol" winners have actually been successful as money generators to the record label with which the show has a deal. Lythgoe named first-season winner Kelly Clarkson and fourth-season winner Carrie Underwood, and then said: "and then you start running out of Idols" -- which is maybe the most scathing review of the show ever.
"We have to go back to creating an American Idol. That's what we're here to do," Lythgoe said.
But, then he quickly added, "But there's a lot of fun in music."
That's when Iovine took over:
"What we're trying to do is make the music better. I don't use the word 'serious.' I just use the word 'better'," he said, looked out at the reporters as if to tell them with his sun-glassed eyes that if they dared to use the word 'serious' again at the news conference, he'd know what to do about it.
Earlier in the day, Seabiscuit presided over the Idol Judge Unveiling Lollapalooza, to which the public had access, in person if they were auditioning for the signing competition, or via web streaming if they were not.
J-Lo and Tyler are replacing not only Simon Cowell, who left to work on a U.S. version of his "X Factor" for Fox, and Ellen DeGeneres, who "decided" after one season she wasn't a good fit, but also Kara DioGuardi, who "decided," on Take Out the Trash Day (the Friday before a holiday weekend which, in this case, was Labor Day) that it was the perfect time for her to return to obscurity.
Tyler, the first new judge Seabiscuit announced, bounced out on stage like a rat terrier hot on the trail of something rodent-y, grinned, and began to sing/scream "American IIIIIIIDOL," in his adorable, screechy, Steven Tyler way.
"How does it feel to be part of this show?" Seabiscuit faux wondered because, of course, Seabiscuit already knows how it feels to be on this show, having been on it from the get-go.
"Fabulous. Wonderful," Tyler said.
What made you after all you've done [want to join the show?]" Seabiscuit asked, continuing his probing interview.
"It's being a part of something much bigger than yourself. I want to bring some rock to this roller coaster. And, show you that if you've got the heart, you've got the talent, and you've got the feeling to do this, you could be the next American Idol," Tyler responded.
His advice for upcoming Idolettes?
"Sing like you do when nobody's looking."
Shortly after Tyler skipped off stage, Jennifer Lopez rose from under the stage in a cloud of white faux-smoke.
"It's all about concentration! You have to concentrate -- and just live!" J-Lo advised auditioners in the audience. Truth be told, J-Lo always was a lousy "Idol" mentor. On the other hand, she's trimmed down, and is wearing a silver spangly jumpsuit, and is now sporting bangs. She has never looked more Paula Abdul-like. This is gonna be great.
"What are you looking to bring to 'American Idol'?" Seabiscuit faux-wondered on stage.
"I'm looking for the next Michael Jackson!' J-Lo raved.
"Like Randy said, we're looking for the Best 'American Idol' Ever!"
Oh great -- so she's going to take her cues from Randy -- the only surviving member of the original "Idol" judge panel, owing to his skill at flying under the radar.
"I'm so excited! I really am!" JLo continued.
Seabiscuit, sensing she had run out of things to say, brought Tyler back on stage, and Randy as well. Randy, sporting a smudge on his upper lip, looked older, somehow, which is hard to do standing so near Steven Tyler.
"This is 'American Idol'," Seabiscuit gushed. "Are you excited now guys!"
Before unveiling the two new judges, Seabiscuit had brought out on stage Randy who, we now know, thanks to the gimongous print on the super-large screen that was behind him, is:
Anchor of the Panel
"What's the deal? What's up? What's up? What's up?" Jackson asked rhetorically.
"Big question: How do you feel about the new" team of judges, Seabiscuit said, asking Randy the tough question.
"Dude, I'm so excited about -- you know, when this started I had no idea....I'm calling this season The Remix, baby! You know what? I believe this is going to find the greatest 'American Idol' ever! Yes! Yes! Yes!"
Check out the latest "Idol" photo gallery.
Lisa de Moraes
| September 22, 2010; 3:50 PM ET
Categories: "American Idol"
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