At a combination press conference/open audition in Los Angeles today, Ryan Seacrest announced what many observers of ‘American Idol‘ had surmised for some time: The panel of judges for the show’s 10th season will consist of Aerosmith lead singer Steven Tyler, pop diva Jennifer Lopez, and original ‘Idol’ judge Randy Jackson.
“It’s being a part of something much bigger than yourself,” Tyler told reporters at the press conference. “I want to bring some rock to this rollercoaster and show if you’ve got the heart, the talent, the feeling to do this you could be the next American Idol.”
“I’m looking for the next Michael Jackson,” added Lopez.
The new judges’ panel is the latest in a series of changes for the show after a season that was seen as a transitional one. Ratings were down nine percent, although the show did end the season as the highest-rated show in prime time; the expansion of the panel to four judges led to increased bickering and what some saw as a diminished emphasis on the contestants; and the talent pool was seen by some as lacking. Other changes afoot for ‘Idol’ include the opening of online auditions for those hopefuls who can’t get to one of the show’s cattle calls, the return of executive producer Nigel Lythgoe, and a shift in the show’s music rights from Sony Music Entertainment to Universal Music Group.
Speculation and rumors surrounding the replacements for exiting judges Simon Cowell, Ellen DeGeneres, and Kara DioGuardi had been flying for most of the summer, and the chatter often threatened to become more contentious than the relationship between the judges and the most woeful singing hopefuls. DioGuardi’s fate was widely speculated after the early-summer exit of DeGeneres, but it didn’t become official until a few weeks ago. The rumor mill’s potential new judges included ‘Celebrity Apprentice’ winner Bret Michaels and season-nine mentor Harry Connick Jr. Once Tyler was unofficially confirmed as judge, Aerosmith saw its intraband tensions rise, with Aerosmith guitarist Joe Perry trading on-stage attacks with Tyler and taking to the press to complain about Tyler’s decision. Meanwhile, sources inside Fox complained that people were trying to make the show look bad in the press.
The 10th season of ‘American Idol’ premieres on FOX on January 12, 2011.