'American Idol': 'Urgency is not there' to begin filming with judges' panel, says source

american-idol-tableImage Credit: F Micelotta/Getty ImagesIn the latest round of frantic media reports about who’ll be seated at the judges’ table for American Idol‘s 10th season, there’s been frequent speculation that the show’s producers are scrambling to get their panel finalized and start shooting audition rounds before the month is over. But that’s simply not the case, says a source close to the show. “The urgency is not there. It only exists in the press,” says the Idol insider. “People need to just chill.”

In seasons past, says my source, producers had to consider Simon Cowell’s British TV commitments — specifically his judging duties on The X Factor — when scheduling the callback rounds where the next generation of Kelly Clarksons and David Cooks try out in front of Idol‘s celebrity judges. With Cowell out of the mix, that timetable pressure has all but evaporated.

What’s more, Idol hasn’t even completed the cattle-call portion of its season 10 auditions, where tens of thousands of hopefuls sing their hearts out for field producers in the hopes of scoring a return engagement in front of the judges — and Fox’s cameras. Earlier this month, Fox announced that it was holding a Sept. 22 audition at The Forum in Los Angeles, and a second source close to the production tells me there’s no way the judges will start callbacks in other cities before that date.

In that event, the earliest that the season 10 panel might convene would be the week of Sept. 27 — and even that is no guarantee. Callbacks could conceivably start in October or November without dooming the production. “It would just mean more editing in a shorter period of time,” says the Idol insider, noting that last year, Hollywood Week — the stage that follows the judges’ callbacks — didn’t begin till January.

For the last month, Jennifer Lopez, Aerosmith frontman Steven Tyler, and returning judge Randy Jackson have been reported as front-runners for a three-person season 10 panel. Spokespersons for Fox, Fremantle, and 19 Entertainment declined comment for this story.

For all my Idol news and commentary, follow me on Twitter @EWMichaelSlezak.


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  • Elizabeth

    I’m anxious to see how the J-Lo/Seacrest angle is going to work if she is in fact one of the new judges. I’m not sure Ryan will be happy being second (highest-paid) banana on the show.

    Honestly, I’m surprised he didn’t work a Kardashian into the judges panel…

    • Huh?

      I thought Seacrest’s salary was $15 mil compared to JLO’s $12mil?

      • Honest Abe

        I think Seacrests’s deal is over a period of time. JoLo gets the $12 mil for just one year. Waste of money if you ask me. She is so mediocre at everything she does.

      • jake

        No, i believe ryan’s deal is 15 million per year, all the more insulting that they couldn’t dish out a deal that year for paula abdul.

      • KT

        You are absolutely 200% correct. Ryan’s deal was a 3-year, $45 million commitment. So yes, he makes $15 million a year, and now J.Lo will make $12 million. Today on Wendy Williams’ show, she said Randy makes “only” $8 million, which I think he should totally get a raise, as he’s been there since Day 1, so someone who hasn’t even judged a single person as of yet should not be making more than him. As irritating as Randy’s judging can be at times, show the man some loyalty and give him more than J.Lo.

      • Mr. Holloway

        KT-

        I see your point about seniority, but do we really need to give Randy Jackson a raise for saying “Yo, yo, yo, check it out”, “pitchy”, “just aight” and for booing every time Simon Cowell was introduced. (Which will thankfully stop this year.)

        I think $8 million a year is more than enough for him to afford those garish shirts he wears.

        In a related story, if I drank coffee, I would’ve spit it out at the part where I read that he makes $8 million. (High five, Randy Jackson’s agent!)

      • @Mr. Holloway

        Outstanding post, sir. Hilarious and true at the same time.

      • my guess

        There is no way that it’s going to be only 3 judges. If they’re freaking out and taking this long then it’s most likely going to be 4 judges.

    • Siggie

      I’d audition for the chance to meet Tyler.

      • Stormy

        Just join the Aeroforce and meet him backstage at one of their concerts.

  • Doug

    I really hope this panel doesn’t end up being the crappy kind like in that horrid monstrosity “The Sing-Off.” Please, Steven Tyler, be the next Simon Cowell. PLEASE.

    • mscisluv

      Are you freaking kidding me? The judges on The Sing Off were FANTASTIC, especially Ben Folds!

      • Marta

        Agree. The judges were the reason I watched that show….Ben Folds was judging perfection— entertaining, offered valuable critique and seemed genuinely interested in the acts.

    • Jamie

      If Steven Tyler could form a coherant thought I’d be right there with you, but unfortunately he can’t.

      • Stormy

        True. Get ready for a lot of singsongy “Fake it ’til you make it” comments.

    • moonbeam

      Whoa there! Ben Folds was the best judge on any TV talent show ever. And the Sing Off was great fun. Go Bubs!

    • Sam

      Oh please, people. Every single critique was “It had this this and this problem, BUT YOU WERE FANTASTIC ANYWAY. I like Ben Folds, but not as a judge. He was way too nice.

  • Clete

    In what universe is this reguarded as news?

    • jill

      In what universe is “reguarded” a word?

      • Shannon

        +1

      • Bosco

        Hee Hee!

    • Eleanor

      this is regarded as news in the universe of pop culture, and since this is called the PopWatch blog, I think you are visiting said universe, and visitors should be respectful of the people who actually live where they’re visiting. don’t mock Slezak.

    • stevenjaba

      idiot. why are you reading this blog?

  • djm

    Yeah right – someone from behind the scenes is saying “people just need to chill” while fanning the flames and LOVING all of the speculation. Give me a break. I am sure that every single person associated with this show is THRILLED at all of the speculation and is loving every tiny little second that people are talking about it.

  • tomm

    “In what universe is this reguarded as news?”

    This is not a ‘news’ site, this is Entertainment Weekly.

    ‘AI’ generates income for Fox, which pays bills for ‘edgy’ artists. Nothing is free.

  • Zazazing

    I had been wondering who was judging the auditions since they normally take place over the summer, so at least that’s cleared up. Just hope they end up with some good judges. I hate the way the judges would tell a contestant to do something and then yell at them the next week for doing it.

  • Wil C. Fry

    “An insider” is pretty darn vague as a source.

    • Elizabeth

      Works for every sports outlet ;)

  • KT

    You are absolutely 200% correct. Ryan’s deal was a 3-year, $45 million commitment. So yes, he makes $15 million a year, and now J.Lo will make $12 million. Today on Wendy Williams’ show, she said Randy makes “only” $8 million, which I think he should totally get a raise, as he’s been there since Day 1, so someone who hasn’t even judged a single person as of yet should not be making more than him. As irritating as Randy’s judging can be at times, show the man some loyalty and give him more than J.Lo. Who would have ever thought that Randy would have outlasted everyone, especially Simon?!

    • Jersey Jeff

      I make less then Randy

      • bethB

        I know–really chaps your ass, doesn’t it?

  • Katie

    I will never watch Idol again—Can’t stand J Lopez—Bad decision—there were so many to choose form–I suppose in addition to 12 mil$ she’ll get her own personal “arse wiper”–she is too much of a diva t orelate to these young contestants-Disapointment

    • momo

      You would think that, but when Lopez appeared as a coach a few years ago, she was actually pretty good–suprisingly so. I think that’s why her name came up early and often to be one of the new judges. Plus if she still tries to be diva-licious after the debacle that has been her career for the past few years, then she needs her arse kicked.

      • Summer

        There’s a whole lot of arse there to be kicked, too.

  • ziggy

    a little pitchy dawg….

  • Georgia

    We can always dream that with time so limited, they’ll only advance contestants with talent. I know, just a dream.

  • otter

    Forget celeb judges on Idol. Get real music people, like the knowledgable dance judges on “So You Think You Can Dance”. Idol is becoming too much about the judges instead of the talented singers.

  • Tim

    Please, please make it a clean sweep. Randy Jackson is a bore. How can someone take millions to make comments and fail to make his comments interesting?

  • Ms Cowell

    How are we supposed to be able to afford to go to LA for callbacks (not to be confused with Hollywood week). Shouldn’t they let contestants go to the callbacks nearest them? So much for that quote, “I’m going to Hollywood” they make them say with the golden ticket.

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