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It's a love fest for 'American Idol' judge Steven Tyler at PaleyFest

March 15, 2011 |  7:28 am

Tyler The votes are in. The new “American Idol” is … Steven Tyler.

Judging from the pool of attendees -- giddy youngsters and giddier adults -- at Monday’s “Idol” panel at the 28th annual PaleyFest at the Saban Theatre in Beverly Hills, viewers are clinging to the 62-year-old rocker like one of Simon Cowell’s fitted tees.

Sure, the contestants generated hoots and hollers from the audience, but it was Tyler, in his leopard-print pants, who was clearly the belle of the “Idol” ball -- knocking the ticker off the imaginary scream-o-meter.  

Tyler attended the session, often sitting with his right leg dangling over the armrest of his chair, alongside fellow judge Randy Jackson, executive producer Ken Warwick, Fox’s head of alternative programming Mike Darnell and nine of the 12 final contestants — Scotty McCreery, Thia Megia and Lauren Alaina couldn’t make it because it was a school night. The revelation caused many of the young fans to mouth “Mom!!!’ in disappointment.

During the question portion from the audience, attendees either praised Tyler’s addition to the judges’ panel -- "It’s been a joy to watch" -- or tried to get him to pose for a picture. (Then there was that one 9-year-old boy who tried to score a date with Pia Toscano.)

“Idol” has slipped in the ratings — as it has every season since 2006 —but the loss hasn’t been as brutal as some expected ("American Idol still can't be beat"). Sorry, Simon! Wednesday shows average 24.4 million viewers, down 7% compared with last season, according to the Nielsen Co. 

"One thing we knew we shouldn't do was replace Simon," Warwick said. "We had to go with something completely different."

Tyler and his kooky Tyler-isms -- Monday he had the audience chuckling with: “Of all the things I ever lost, I miss my mind the most" -- were just different enough. 

The show "allows me to be who I am," Tyler said.  “I've always been under the hood of rock-n-roll." 

But Monday wasn’t simply a Tyler lovefest. Warwick confirmed that the top 10 (not top 12) will be a part of the upcoming American Idol Tour. He also revealed that this week's theme night will feature songs from each contestant's birth year. Oh and the audience learned that Jacob Lusk pigged out the most in the house -- "I like to eat!" 

And four days after missing Thursday’s results-show episode, contestant Casey Abrams declared on Monday: “I’m feeling really good.” Abrams suffers from ulcerative colitis and had to skip the show to get blood transfusions.

“I thought I was actually going to make it,” he continued about last Thursday’s show, “but I had to stay behind. It was fun and everyone waved at me, and I felt really supported by everyone, and I loved watching. … Thank you, Stefano [Langone] and Haley [Reinhart], for taking my part.”

Based on the scream-o-meter Monday, he’ll be sticking around for a while. 

-- Yvonne Villarreal


Full "American Idol" coverage on ShowTracker

 Photo: American Idol Judge Steven Tyler onstage at Paley Center for Media's Paleyfest 2011 event honoring "American Idol" held at Saban Theater in Beverly Hills, California. Credit:  Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images.