This Week's Cover: An exclusive 'American Idol' roundtable with Randy, Steven, Jennifer, and Ryan

With Simon Cowell’s ballyhooed exit (to bring his British talent show The X Factor Stateside this fall), Ellen DeGeneres departing after just one season, and Kara DioGuardi’s contract left in the dustbin, American Idol is suddenly in its most uncertain condition since its June 2002 debut. But in EW’s exclusive roundtable interview with host Ryan Seacrest, returning judge Randy Jackson, and new judges Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler, Idol‘s new team doesn’t appear to be sweating Life After Simon.

“It’s aged the show down a bit,” deadpans Seacrest of Cowell’s absence, while Jackson laughs. “There are less clouds of smoke. We start earlier. There’s less — what is that English dish he always ordered for lunch? Shepherd’s pie? He loves shephrerd’s pie.”

“No, it’s the blood pudding,” jokes Jackson, before he turns serious. “Look, it’s definitely been interesting. We definitely miss [Simon], but it’s a different kind of vibe. It’s a different kind of energy now. And I think in season 10 the show actually really needed it….It’s not about replacing him or any of the others: Paula, Ellen, Kara, anybody else. People have been saying to us, ‘Who’s mean?’ We’ve all traded off on that because I think you have to always give people the truth, no matter what.”

“We’re more of a collaborative judging group,” adds Lopez. “We’re always leaning over to each other and saying, ‘Oh my God, I think she’s good.’ ‘Oof, I don’t get it.’ ‘You don’t like it?’ I mean, not in a way where it becomes disrespectful to [the contestant’s] moment, but we discuss things. We just have a totally different style than any of the past judging tables.”

And what has Tyler made of all the talent he’s seen auditioning for the show? “It’s just astounding,” he says. “We throw the drift net out and look what comes up? Gold. [I’m] crying, honestly, from someone who hit the notes so sweetly and beautifully, not just that it’s the end of the day and thank God this motherf—er is the last one. Not that.”

“See?” smiles Seacrest. “It’s going to be an all-new show.”

For more with the new Idol team — including why Lopez believes the show needs more David Archuleta moments, how Tyler feels about Kid Rock and Joe Perry’s unkind comments about him taking the Idol gig, and what Jackson thinks is the reason Ellen DeGeneres ultimately didn’t connect with the other judges — as well as EW’s exclusive first-hand peek inside the Los Angeles Idol auditions, pick up the new Winter TV Preview issue of Entertainment Weekly, on stands Friday, January 7.

Comments (94 total) Add your comment
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  • Me2

    That photo makes Jennifer Lopez legs looks like they are gargantuan. Also, it looks like Stephen Tyler is Lopez great aunt Linda. All in all, Randy and Seacrest are the only ones that this is a good photo of…

    • ladeedah

      Seacrest looks good? He looks like he’s drunk and about to fall asleep!

      • jordan

        lol the only reason i actually clicked on this was to see if anybody else thought seacrest looked really odd in this pic… like he’s trying to be cool and miserably failed.

      • Khoff

        Ha! That’s the Seacrest version of Blue Steel. :)

      • LIGrrl

        He looks like he forgot his glasses and is struggling to read something far away.

        His awful pic was also the only reason I clicked onto the comments!

      • Mikka

        I vote for drunk and about to fall asleep. Oh, and Me2, I love the bit about Tyler looking like her great aunt Linda. (He really does.)

      • Zip

        Seacrest and Lopez look like they are trying way too hard to be sexy. Jackson and Tyler just look umcomfortable all crammed together on that seat. Terrible pic.

      • vdsz

        I love this, I love my boy friend. He is a nice guy.
        i met him via —–B lack Wh ite F li rts. C” 0- M—— it gives you a chance to make your life better and open oppor-tunities for you to meet the at-tractive sin gles and tr-eat you like a king or Q-ueen. Maybe you wanna check it out or tell your friends !!!

      • what

        What is with the by EW staff? Why in certain articles does this website put an anonymous writer? Is your writing that big of a secret to you??? LOL

      • wow

        Jens outfit and shoes is great. The dress is very Vegas show style looking. I think it’s a fantastic magazine cover.

    • Jethro

      I dread this part of the season when the winter shows begin. I hope EW doesn’t force feed AI down our throats every week. This season is already shaping up to be horrendouse!!

    • Just Me

      Uggg Randy and the crypt keeper. This season will be an epic fail.

    • Renee

      Ha! So I’m not the only one that thinks the picture is ugly!. They look like Mafia (an insult to the Mafia too) on a binge in Vegas

    • Rush

      The photographer used a wide angle lens. That’s why her legs look distorted. I stil say, “Hot damn!”

    • LOL

      Pathetic. Who will watch this crap?

      • MOL


      • I will

        I’m watching! AI=my guilty addiction!

      • sgb

        Me and thousand others

    • pylgrym

      Actually, I think more like her grandmother but glan to see someone else thinks Tyler looks like an old hag in drag. Is that possible. Anyway EWWW. I am so not watching.

      • theresa

        I think that Tyler is a great man. He is his own person. The comments are rude.

    • MNCyn

      Interesting that this is the first comment. I spent time analyzing the photo too and thought, “I wonder what the photographer was thinking when he/she got that angle of Jennifer’s foot!??” It sure is …. um …. interesting.

  • KC

    JHO is trying waaaaaaay too hard there.
    So is Seacrest.

    • TJ

      When isn’t she trying too hard?

    • KC

      She looks like she’s saddling to the side to let out a fart. I hope those aren’t leather seats.

      • Just Me

        lol p.u.

      • UGH

        Ryan looks like he’s making a poopie in his diaper.

  • lisa

    the show will not be good without simon,it’s time for the show to end.

    • Lily

      Agree. You’d have to pay me to watch this show and I still wouldn’t watch it! YUK

      • Kimmie

        I agree, too. No Simon = TRAINWRECK. They can hype up this Titanic all they want; we know where it’s headed. They should have pulled the plug the minute Simon left the building. This is what you call denial: Nobody wants to let go of what used to be a big event from January-May, so everyone is pretending that everything is going to be okay and it’s going to be business as usual at Idol. Even Randy and Ryan are trying in vain to make lemonade out of lemons. You know they miss Simon, and they know that the show is toast without him. No matter how the producers rearrange the furniture, they will not be able to cover up the gaping hole that Simon left.

      • John B.

        JEJE! I’m gonna have such a good time laughing at all the dommsayers when the show does fine in the ratings or gasp…better.

      • Kimmie

        Actually, John B, the “doomsayers” are going to have the last laugh. Reality check: a jet can’t fly without an engine, and Idol can’t fly without Simon. Especially with two pathetic, self-promoting popstars passing themselves off as judges.

  • Bill

    Ugh – seeing that image first thing this morning.

    • Jethro

      Actually Steven looks more feminine than his daughter Liv.

      He is going to be hard to watch and listen [with that hoarse of a voice] 2-3 times a week.

  • gigi

    Steven Tyler looks so uncomfortable between Randy’s stomach and J.Lo’s butt…

    • Rush

      Like being caught between two giant gummy bears…or in a Katy Perry video.

  • Laura

    Which one’s Steven Tyler and which one’s J-Lo?

  • Bruce

    I hate to say what Seacrest looks like he’s doing!

    • AuntSassy

      Oh please, his unit isn’t even that big.

      • Rush

        I think that was the point.

  • Jean-Ralphio

    Randy: Happy to still have a job

    Tyler: Mike LaFontaine says’ “Wha Happened”

    J-Lo: Still DAMN!!!!

    Seacrest: Douche-tastic!!! as always

  • srw

    These four people don’t even look like they are being photographed for the same magazine. Randy looks like he just came from dinner, Steven like he woke up from a nap, JLo like she is seducing a neighbor across the fire escape and Ryan like he finished a spy mission. Was there any direction or guidance?

    • pylgrym

      Agreed. What’s that new computer photo shop? The Cloud? Definitely a before for the ad.

  • JoeC

    The show will be boring without Simon…

  • dionita

    why you people hate jlo because she is a diva she is a bussineswoman great actrees or jelouse leav it alone jlo

    • sara

      time to take your medication.

    • Well

      @ dionita – It’s hard to take you serious when you can’t even spell some of the words correctly and used NO punctuation.

    • Harry Manklankarov

      Wow…you are super dumb!

  • Hugo

    OMG J.Lo looks gorgeous!!! Can’t wait to see this season.

  • Jerry

    J Lo. Face 9. Tush 10. Voice3. If you want to see the most beautiful Latina in the Usa, check out Playboy’s Miriam Gonzalez!

    • AuntSassy

      Oh please – Miriam in the magazine, YES! Miriam in the years since she posed and gained (what appears to be) 50 lbs – not so much. Plus, she has a horrid reputation of being rude to people at fan events.

  • TOfan

    JLo rocks! And just fyi, lots more great Archuleta moments on his awesome new album, “The Other Side of Down” … haven’t been back to watch Idol since Season 7, tbh, but this new judging panel sounds like they’ll be more about the music, less about manufacturing drama. A welcome change.

  • mark in nyc

    is this the cover of Photoshop Weekly?

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