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'American Idol' plotting more business-like hurdles for contestants

November 18, 2010 |  4:38 pm

AI-judges When a revamped “American Idol” returns for its 10th season in January, the judges' panel won’t be the only noticeable difference viewers can expect.

Executive producer Nigel Lythgoe tells TV Guide that there are plenty other ways he has shaken up the aging talent competition.

“Idol” wannabes face a set of new challenges that will show them marketing and developing themselves, much closer to how it’s traditionally done in the biz. Or at least that's the theory.

Challenges that lie ahead for contestants include making a music video --  hopefully without cheesy product placement for a car -- and developing an award show-worthy performance complete with a full band and dancers.

Another change: Producers are eliminating the tiring round that trims the top 24 contestants to 12. The show will instead go straight into the top 12. Though it’s unclear how those 12 finalists will be selected -- if by America or the panel -- it will be good to cut some of the clunky, overdramatic moments of “Hollywood Week.”

"I didn't think [the top 24] were very good. I was bored with them by the time they got there," Lythgoe said to TV Guide.

After last season’s lackluster crop, there will surely be a curiosity factor in seeing how Steven Tyler and Jennifer Lopez rejuvenate the judges’ panel. There's even more star power planned for the show. 

But whether the addition of a season-long mentor in Jimmy Iovine, the famed Interscope/Geffen/A&M executive, and such hot producers as Timbaland and Polow Da Don, who have been booked to help with behind-the-scenes coaching, is enough to launch another Kelly Clarkson-esque pop star remains to be seen.

-- Gerrick D. Kennedy

Photo: Steve Tyler, left, and Jennifer Lopez join Randy Jackson as the new judges on "American Idol" at the Forum in September. Credit: Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times