FOX’s press day started with a panel for the fine new Shawn Ryan drama “Chicago Code,” but things are shifting into high gear first with the “American Idol” panel and then with FOX’s executive session. I’ll live-blog both… Click through…
10:10 a.m. I assume that Ryan Seacrest’s busy radio schedule forced “Idol” to take its second-place position on FOX’s TCA schedule. But you can’t have “American Idol” without Simon Cowell. Errr… “Without Ryan Seacrest,” I mean…
10:14 a.m. This panel will be starting soon. Til then, read about the formatting for “American Idol” this season.
10:21 a.m. I’ve read the “Idol” format changes and can’t quite figure out the point. It feels like “change for the sake of change,” rather than “change I can believe in.” But what do I know? Other than the eight seasons of regular “Idol” recapping and commentary, I mean…
10:27 a.m. We begin with a clip package of pleasant and reassuring compliments from the new judging panel, highlighted by a genuinely incoherent Steven Tyler.
10:28 a.m. Are they going to have to put Steven Tyler on a five-second delay? “F*** no,” Tyler replies.
10:28 a.m. Jennifer Lopez is wearing a short skirt. She’s going to flash us.
10:29 a.m. “We love him and miss him and think he was a great addition to the show,” says Randy Jackson, though he insists auditioners were impressed by J-Lo and Tyler.
10:30 a.m. “I think we’re both very spontaneous,” J-Lo says of their judging style, which is “honest and in-the-moment.” Tyler adds, “You’ve gotta have the whole deal. You’ve gotta have the voice and what it’s all about.” Nigel Lythgoe points out that it’s just as important how the judges treat good singers as bad singers.
10:31 a.m. “I think they bring more of a critique, rather than just ‘Pack your suitcase, you’re going home,'” Nigel Lythgoe says, coming the new judges to Simon. “We’ve been through the ranks,” J-Lo says, pointing out Tyler’s 40-plus years of experience and her own undisclosed period of experience.
10:32 a.m. “We still honestly give them a full read. If it’s terrible, it’s terrible,” Randy says, pointing out that nobody’s going to be The Mean Judge.
10:33 a.m. “It’s a fact that very often, America gets it wrong,” Ken Warwick says. Randy Jackson says that the failings of recent “Idol” albums comes from a failure to make good albums, rather than a failure of the stars themselves.
10:34 a.m. A critic refers to Jennifer Lopez as “Ms. Lo,” before asking what people’s first reactions were to diminutive FOX reality guru Mike Darnell. Mike Darnell is sitting at the far end of the pain in a giant cowboy hat.
10:35 a.m. “I’m not sure yet,” Tyler says when asked why they’re doing this. “When someone opens their mouth, I can see it, their character,” Tyler says of what they’re looking at.
10:35 a.m. “I was like, ‘Oh… what an interesting person,'” says Lopez of her reaction to Darnell. As to why she’s doing the show? “I love this show,” she says. “We’re here to help the kids move through it,” she adds, pointing out that it’s still America voting. She swears, “I’m having a ball.”
10:37 a.m. “Probably scared to death,” Tyler says of how he’d have done as a performer on “Idol” when he was young. Lopez says that when she started out, she was gutsy and ballsy, but she doesn’t know how she’d have done on “Idol.”
10:37 a.m. Nigel Lythgoe insists that America’s normally gotten the correct winner. That was true for the first few seasons, if you ask me, but not frequently since then… Just my opinion.
10:38 a.m. Ken Warwick says they have some “fabulous” contestants this year. What else would he say?
10:41 a.m. “My job is to help make sure we find somebody with an original voice,” says mentor Jimmy Iovine, who will coach the contestants and work with the four or five producers to help the singers cut tracks. He wants people to improve each week.
10:42 a.m. “I think it’s changed a bit,” Randy Jackson says. He vows that we’ll see “A More Assertive Dawg.” Randy then tries to make a joke where he compares the TSA with the TCA. Yo, dawg. That joke was *not* your thing, Randy. His promise is “Fewer yos, more nos.”
10:43 a.m. Asked about the show’s aging demos, Mike Darnell prefers to concentrate on what the show has achieved over the years. He’s not worried, as long as audiences come out.
10:44 a.m. Universal will have a Day One relationship with these contestants, Iovine says. “I think it’s going to give these kids a better chance of having success after the show,” Randy Jackson says.
10:46 a.m. So far, I haven’t made much sense of anything Tyler has said. This bodes well!
10:47 a.m. “Obviously with Simon leaving, that’s given us a new direction that we’re almost forced into,” Lythgoe says, emphasizing all of the new technology that “Idol” hopes to take advantage of as it evolves.
10:48 a.m. Ryan Seacrest has been really quiet so far. “It will hopefully be a little bit of a circus,” Ryan says of the show’s changes. “I’m inspired by the new life here and I love it. Simon and I had our banter and people knew us for that, but this is a whole different dynamic,” Seacrest says.
10:49 a.m. To some degree, the contestants will occasionally be able to sing their own songs, but Lythgoe and Warwick say some of what they’ve heard so far as been very good. The round they’re starting to film today will ask the singers to do two songs apiece, one selected by Interscope and one that the singers choose (allowing them to do their own stuff).
10:51 a.m. “I don’t know how it would feel to be anything else,” J-Lo says when asked how it feels to be a Latina on the show.
10:52 a.m. Randy says he likes it when Jennifer Lopez’s hood side comes out. “I like that Boogie-Down Bronx girl,” Randy Jackson says. Meanwhile, Steven Tyler says that he realized he wanted to work with J-Lo after watching “The Back-Up Plan” on an airplane. Yes. He really said that. Apparently he saw her vulnerable side.
10:54 a.m. “We have a lot of great talent, boys and girls and women,” J-Lo says, adding that there’s so much great talent and she’s already shed a few tears.
10:55 a.m. “Trust me, we’ve got some heat this season,” Randy Jackson says, adding this year was better talent than in recent years.
10:56 a.m. The “Las Vegas Round” isn’t really a Las Vegas Round, it just required contestants to learn a Beatles song overnight, which had something to do with the geographic location of the show “Love.” This year, they’ve extended Hollywood Round by one week, added challenges for the kids. Their goal is to get the viewers to know the contestants better before they hit the Big Stage.
10:58 a.m. “The people themselves make it clear who we should put on,” Lythgoe says. The goal of the earlier challenges will be to get the people to be themselves more and demand more screentime. Lythgoe says that self-analysis is just part of the process.
11:00 a.m. Lopez says that she won’t be getting any of her clothing specially designed for “Idol,” but that she generally gets a pretty great mixture of clothing offered to her.
11:01 a.m. “I’m from the Bronx… Yonkers is where I got my pet raccoon,” Steven Tyler says when a questioner asks him about being from Yonkers.
11:03 a.m. Aerosmith is on a break, Tyler says. If “Friends” taught me anything, that means that it’s no OK for him to sleep with the girl from the copy store. Aerosmith is not dead. Tyler admits that he’s gotten some “stuff” from his bandmates in response to his doing “Idol.” That may be understating things.
11:05 a.m. “The audience votes. There’s nothing we can do,” Warwick says when asked about the string of three consecutive winners who are somewhat similar white guys with guitars.
11:05 a.m. Last question. Jennifer Lopez is asked if she’s still going to be doing other things. “Yes.”
On to the executive session. Time to set up that blog post… Back in a few…