Less nasty, more nice in revamped "American Idol"

Tue Jan 11, 2011 5:20pm EST
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By Jill Serjeant

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - "American Idol" returns to television next week not only with two new celebrity judges, but a whole new attitude -- less of the cutting put-downs and more support and coaching for aspiring new pop stars, producers said on Tuesday.

The exit of caustic British judge Simon Cowell, and the addition of singer Jennifer Lopez and rock star Steven Tyler has shaken up the dynamics of the top-rated TV singing contest, and placed the emphasis squarely on encouraging original talent, they said.

Gone are the old "nasty and nice" roles once seen from judges, executive producer Nigel Lythgoe told TV journalists.

"It's about giving the right information to (the contestants) so they continue on their journey as an artist. It is a lot more about searching for that eventual winner, than stopping people getting there.

"In the past, we may have been accused of putting barriers up against them or making glib remarks, rather than trying to help them through the whole process," Lythgoe said.

"American Idol", the most-watched TV show in the United States for six years, has undergone big changes as it enters its 10th season in a bid to reverse sliding viewership and find talent equal to early winners Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood, who went on to Grammy-winning careers.

Record producer Jimmy Iovine will act as in-house mentor and contestants will get the chance for the first time to perform songs they have written themselves.

Lythgoe said the changes were aimed at ensuring that the contestants go into the competition "with confidence and pride in themselves."   Continued...

<p>Judges Steven Tyler (L), Jennifer Lopez (2nd L) and Randy Jackson and host Ryan Seacrest (R)take part in a panel discussion for the show "American Idol" at the Fox Broadcasting Company Winter Press Tour 2011 for the Television Critics Association in Pasadena, California January 11, 2011. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson</p>