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New judges won't claim villain role on 'Idol'

By LYNN ELBER,AP Television Writer

LAST UPDATED: 10:44 a.m. HST, Jan 11, 2011

PASADENA, Calif. — Now that Simon Cowell is gone, nobody is ready to claim the villain's role on "American Idol."

New judges Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler told reporters Tuesday that they're looking forward to using their experience to help guide new artists. The series is set to begin its 10th season on Jan. 19, with only Randy Jackson left from the original cast of judges.

The judges have been candid as they've filmed early rounds of the contest, Lopez said.

"We're both very spontaneous with how we critique each and every person who walks in. ... We're very honest and in the moment," said the singer-actress.

But they also call on their professional insights to help the contestants, she said.

"There's nothing like having that kind of discussion with another artist to help you grow," Lopez said.

Executive producer Nigel Lythgoe said the new season of "American Idol" will be more about searching for an eventual winner of the show, "rather than stopping people getting there."

Jackson, known on "Idol" for his fondness for the word "dawg," said fans will see "a more assertive dog, a little bit more 'hair of the dog.'"

Producers and host Ryan Seacrest promised a more fun ride. "There's a genuine camaraderie with this group," Seacrest said.

Asked about the lack of a major recording star emerging from the last few seasons, the panel said the problem wasn't in the singers but the records they've released. Lee DeWyze won last year's contest, with Kris Allen the audience's choice the season before, and neither has approached the success of past winners Kelly Clarkson or Carrie Underwood.

"If you make a great record, the public will buy" it, Jackson said.

Added Seacrest: "This is the greatest springboard out there, but you still have to find a record that works."

Jimmy Iovine, head of the Interscope Geffen and A&M label that will record the winner, said he's been involved with the show from the start and wants to ensure the new Idol represents an "original voice."

Singing in the style of an established performer is "not particularly attractive to a record company," said Iovine, who was described by Fox as the show's "in-house mentor."

Changes in "Idol" include extending the "Hollywood Week" auditions to cut the semifinalist field to a smaller number, 20, which gives the voting audience fewer singers to choose as finalists, and allowing contestants to perform their own material.

The revisions were necessary in light of the judging panel makeover, said executive producer Cecile Frot-Coutaz.

"It's important that the show evolve with the change of cast. Otherwise, you're putting a new cast in somebody else's show," she said.

"American Idol" continued its reign last season as the most-watched TV show but has seen its ratings erode.


AP Television Writer David Bauder contributed to this report.



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