As widely expected, the judging lineup for “American Idol” season 10 will be Steven Tyler, Jennifer Lopez and Randy Jackson, with Jimmy Iovine, chairman of Interscope Geffen A&M Records, acting as an in-house mentor to contestants, with an assist from producers Timbaland and Polow Da Don.
The announcement was made before the Los Angeles round of auditions at the Forum Wednesday morning, an event that was glammed up with some smoke and neon lights — and sequins on Lopez’s part — perhaps in order to distract from the fact the news was widely leaked weeks ago.
Each judge received an introductory clip reel before they were brought on stage to chat with host Ryan Seacrest; the several thousand auditioners in attendance sung along to Aerosmith’s “Dream On” and screamed their love for Lopez. “I’m so excited to be here, to work with you and to watch you grow during this journey we’re going to go on,” Lopez said.
As part of her deal to judge “Idol,” Jennifer Lopez’s Nuyorican Productions will get a first look deal with 20th Century Fox Films and Fox Broadcasting Company, meaning that the studios have the first right of refusal on the singer’s projects.
Earlier this year it was announced that “Idol” would switch its label allegiance from Sony BMG to UMG after 9 years; Iovine’s role as mentor will include behind-the-scenes segments with Iovine helping the contestants.
Executive producer Nigel Lythgoe said, in essence, that Iovine will become the Simon Cowell-esque truthteller of the show, and called him AI’s “music czar.” “He’s the type of guy who will listen to your CD and throw it in the bin in front of you and tell you it’s not good enough,” he says. “You know A&R guys.”
“We’re going to try every week to bring the artist along and really give them some input,” Iovine said. “Nigel [Lythgoe] has been coaching me on how to do that in the course of the show. Timbaland and Polow [Da Don] are here to help; every week we’re going to have the best producers in the world helping these artists. Contestants are going to have to show improvement every week.”
While he didn’t give specifics, Lythgoe said there will be some rules changes to the show, and while he’s still open to celebrity visits, there will be no more artist mentors besides Iovine. “We are no longer going to get the country singer to sing rock,” Lythgoe said. “We-and Jimmy-going to get them to stay in the genre they belong.” The music choices will vary more by decade this year, he said, as opposed to changing up themes entirely.
Fox Head of Reality Mike Darnell said despite the rumors that Lopez made diva demands during negotiations, the entire process was smooth. Ryan Seacrest and Jackson visibly bristled when a reporter asked the diva question, resulting in Lopez to laugh uproariously. “They’re like my brothers now!” she said. “What the hell! [As for the diva rumors] I’m kind of used to it. I’ve been calming the Fox people down, saying [the rumors] will be done tomorrow. The truth always shows itself in who you are.”
Tyler was a bit more cagey in response to rumors that his “Idol” judgeship was causing a rift with his Aerosmith bandmates. “At first they were jealous, they heard it through the press and not through me,” he said. “And I was like, ‘Four months ago you were looking for another lead singer.’ Things go up and down. I’ve been on tour with these guys for 40 years…It’s a real journey with those guys and they would say the same thing about me.”