'American Idol' stars rip 'X Factor' and 'The Voice'
That message came through loud and clear Sunday afternoon, as the "Idol" judges, host Ryan Seacrest and show producers met reporters at the semi-annual TV press tour in Pasadena and shot a few poison darts in the direction of "The X Factor," the rival singing show developed by erstwhile "Idol" judge Simon Cowell.
"We're the original, we kind of invented this whole game that everybody now copied," said Randy Jackson, the sole remaining member of "Idol's" original judging trio with Cowell and Paula Abdul (now also on "X Factor"). He appeared onstage Sunday alongside fellow judges Steven Tyler from Aerosmith and Jennifer Lopez, whose career has resurged because of "Idol." "Simon has done well with his show. Probably not meeting the expectations he wanted, but we wish him well."
Of course, the situation had to be handled with some delicacy, because "X Factor" and "Idol" have both become bulwarks for the Fox network, albeit at different times of year ("X Factor" just wrapped its inaugural run last month, while "Idol" rolls out its 11th season Jan. 18).
But the "Idol" folks may be feeling the heat. In addition to comparisons with "X Factor," "Idol" will have to fend off another challenge from "The Voice," which returns to the NBC schedule this month. Earlier on Sunday, Fox programming chief Kevin Reilly told reporters that the network was prepared to see lower ratings for "Idol" given its age and competition.
When the subject of "The Voice" came up, Jackson broke in: "I will tell you one thing: We will never rip off 'Star Trek' like 'The Voice' did with spinning chairs." He also proclaimed "Idol" "the most authentic talent show."
Even Mike Darnell, who as Fox's reality chief has to maintain diplomatic relations with both "Idol" and "X Factor," called the latter program "over the top, campy, [and] louder" than "Idol." When a reporter noted that first-season "Idol" winner Kelly Clarkson would mentor contestants on "The Voice" — which could be viewed as an act of betrayal, given that "Idol" gave her an invaluable platform with which to launch her career — Darnell couldn't resist a swipe: "We're not hiring a lot of people on 'The Voice' to be on our show."
Well, all right then.
With all this thinly veiled acrimony in the air, it was up to Seacrest to restore some civility to the proceedings. And that he did by sidestepping speculation that he's bound to replace Matt Lauer on NBC's morning powerhouse "Today." When a reporter pressed him on the subject, Seacrest simply said that he couldn't comment.
"I can't imagine life without 'American Idol,' " Seacrest told the crowd.
— Scott Collins (twitter.com/scottcollinsLAT)
Photo: Judges Steven Tyler, left, Jennifer Lopez and Randy Jackson will return to "American Idol" this month. Credit: Frederick M. Brown / Getty Images.