Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Highlights From Today's Press Conference

All the Internet sites I have read today about the big announcement is about Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler. But to me that’s not the real story. We already knew about them. What we didn’t know was about the other changes…

And we didn’t find those out at the presentation, or in the press release. Those revealed themselves in the press conference that finally started at around 2 p.m. today.

The biggest change—and the real story in my opinion—is the addition of an in-house mentor. His name is Jimmy Iovine. Here’s his bio from the official FOX press release:

“Jimmy Iovine, acclaimed music executive and record producer, is chairman of Interscope Geffen A&M Records, a unit of Universal Music Group, the global music leader. Interscope, the company Iovine founded with partner Ted Field in 1990 is celebrating its 20th anniversary with its continued commitment to its diverse and gifted artists, including Eminem, Lady Gaga, Dr. Dre, U2, Sheryl Crow, The Black Eyed Peas, Mary J. Blige, Nelly Furtado and No Doubt. Iovine also heads up Beats by Dr. Dre, the enormously successful high-performance headphone and sound transmission company he co-founded with legendary artist and fellow producer Dr. Dre in January 2008. Iovine began his career in the mid-1970s first as a recording engineer (John Lennon, Bruce Springsteen) and then as a producer (U2, Dire Straits, Stevie Nicks, Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, Patti Smith). He co-produced the hit Eminem movie “8 Mile” and Jim Sheridan’s “Get Rich or Die Tryin’” starring 50 Cent, and he executive-produced the critically acclaimed LeBron James documentary “More Than A Game.” Iovine co-produced two consecutive Super Bowl Halftime Shows; one in 2002 featuring U2, and the other in 2003 featuring Shania Twain, No Doubt and Sting.”

Remember that Interscope Geffen A&M Records is the new label home for the “Idol” winner…

Iovine joined the judges, Ryan Seacrest, executive producers Nigel Lythgoe and Ken Warwick and Mike Darnell, president of alternative entertainment for FOX, for today’s press conference. Here’s a sample of some of the things that came out of it…

On who will replace Simon as the bad guy:
Randy Jackson: “There’s not going to be a villain.”
Nigel: “It’s about playing yourself.”
Mike: “It’s a whole new time.”
JLo: “I believe in tough love, but I could never be cruel to another artist.”
Nigel: “Jimmy will bring a lot of toughness.”

On the “Idol” experience:
Steven Tyler: “It’s gonna be hard, but it’s also going to be fun. You spot it, you got it.”

On the reports of her diva demands:
JLo: “I’m used to it. I was calming down the FOX people. The truth eventually shows itself.”
Nigel: “There was so much rubbish out there.”
Mike: “There were no diva demands [from any of them]. They were typical deals.”

On changes to the format:
Nigel: “Having Universal there is fabulous. We’re going to look at the uniqueness of the artist. There will be a whole new set of rules. We’re not just copying tracks.”
Jimmy: “We’re going to bring the artists along and give them more input. We’re looking for originals. We have producers that will work with them each week.” He names Timbaland and Polo, who were at the press conference. “Someone has to work with them every week. We’re going to bring originality to that cover song. We’re going to show the audience that progress.”
Nigel: “We’re no longer protecting a brand. We’re being given the opportunity of recreating the magic we started with.” Nigel also mentioned making changes to the middle rounds that have always made him uncomfortable, but he didn’t mention specifics, or what he meant by middle rounds.
Jimmy: “Every week the best producers in the business will be bringing them along like they would any other artist. You’re really going to enjoy it.”
Nigel: After complaining about the number of contestants last season that just stood and played guitar, Nigel said with this season’s contestants, “We will want them to move.”
Ken: “They will need to present themselves. It’ll be a big step up musically.”

On whether there will be guest judges:
Nigel: “We’ll be sticking with three judges. We’re always open if there’s someone else who wants to jump in.” Nigel used the example of Elton John wanting to do the show as something they wouldn’t turn down. He also said they were not planning to use mentors since they had Jimmy. And then, he took a shot at Miley Cyrus, making a comment about her being a mentor.

On the judges’ chemistry:
Randy: “It’s a natural fit. We’ve known each other for a while. I think you’re gonna love this.”
Ryan: “There’s massive heart and soul inside Steven Tyler.”
Randy: “We’ve got a bond already, just naturally.”

On whether ratings will fall without Simon:
Nigel: “We can’t replace Simon…I don’t want the judges to worry about ratings. I want the focus to go back on the kids.”

On what his bandmates think:
Steven: “I’ve been married to them for 40 years. It’s five guys, so that’s worse than women. At first they were jealous…Things go up and down. In a band you live on the tail of a comet…They’ve been judging me every day. And sometimes it hurt.”

On why they wanted to be a part of “Idol”:
Jimmy: “It’s an extraordinary platform for music. I was always jealous [of Sony, the show’s former label]. This is an evolution. We’re gonna bring our best game. It will be something you’ve never seen musically. I can guarantee that.”
JLo: “It felt right.”
Steven: “I think I can add to [the show].”

On the performances:
Nigel: “You’re no longer going to get the country singer to sing rock…It will be more decades than individual artists. They’re going to be singing the genre Jimmy thinks [will be successful for them].”
Randy: “It’s a new beginning.”

On whether things are a little more serious this year:
Nigel: He commented that when you name Idols you say Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood and then “you run out of Idols.” “We have to go back to creating an American Idol…It’s still going to be fun.”
Jimmy: “We’re trying to make the music better. Every week, they need to progress. They have to be coached.”
Nigel: “We’re still going to get their backstories. The audience still has to like them as people.”

Photos Credit: (L-R) Seacrest, Jackson, Iovine, Lopez, Lythgoe, Warwick & Darnell--Frank Micelotta/FOX; Jackson, Tyler & Lopez--Frank Micelotta/FOX