LOS ANGELES (Reuters Life!) - “American Idol” contestants will have to make a music video, and work with a band and dancers when the revamped TV contest returns in January, executive producer Nigel Lythgoe said in interviews on Thursday.
In other major changes to the 10 year-old show, the competitive round that takes the group of singers from 24 to a Top 12 will be eliminated, and the finalists will be faced with new challenges, Lythgoe told TVGuide.com.
“I didn’t think (the top 24) were very good. I was bored with them by the time they got there,” Lythgoe said about contestants from previous seasons.
Singer and actress Jennifer Lopez and Aerosmith rocker Steven Tyler joined the “American Idol” judging panel in September in a sweeping makeover aimed at keeping the aging show No.1 with viewers. The weekly audience for “Idol” has fallen about six million viewers, on average, since 2006.
Lopez and Tyler replaced departing Briton Simon Cowell, and judges Ellen DeGeneres and Kara DioGuardi also exited. Original judge Randy Jackson remains.
“With Simon Cowell leaving, it needed a revamp,” Lythgoe said in a separate interview Thursday on TV talk show “The View”.
Lythgoe also said more contenders from nationwide auditions will be sent to Hollywood to prove themselves, and the Top 12 finalists will face challenges each week to promote themselves. These will include making the best music video, and creating an awards-show style performance with a band and back-up dancers.
Lythgoe said in Twitter messages last week that the top 12 would live in a house together, and that they would not be allowed to “hide behind” guitars and pianos every week.
Producers lowered the minimum age of contestants to 15 this year in what is seen as a bid to find young talent like that of Canadian teen idol Justin Bieber, who was discovered on YouTube.
Earlier this year, “Idol” hired record producer Jimmy Iovine as an in-house mentor who will work weekly with the contestants, and switched the record company for “Idol” artists to Universal Music Group from Sony Music Entertainment.
“American Idol”, which made its debut in 2001, has generated huge advertising revenue for Fox, and millions of album and digital download sales for early winners like Carrie Underwood and Kelly Clarkson.
But recent contestants have struggled to make chart-topping careers and “Idol’s” eight-year reign as the most-watched show in the United States came under threat in 2010.
Season 10 of “American Idol” begins on January 12, 2011 on Fox.
Editing by Bob Tourtellotte