“American Idol” put an end to the rumor mill surrounding its judges’ panel on Wednesday by announcing that pop star Jennifer Lopez and rock legend Steven Tyler will fill the seats left vacant by Ellen Degeneres and Kara DioGuardi. The announcement came as little surprise to some, as Tyler and Lopez had been on an ever-shortening list of names circulating around the media since the summer. The bigger surprise came with the announcement of Interscope Records’ founder Jimmy Iovine as the show’s musical mentor, effectively taking over the spot vacated by Simon Cowell.
The announcement of Ellen Degeneres as last season’s new judge was met with alot of enthusiasm as well. That buzz was reflected by the boost in ratings for her first appearance, as “American Idol” posted its best numbers in awhile. According to CBS News.com, 30 million viewers tuned in to see if the personality and antics that work so well on her talk show would translate to the judges’ panel. The momentum of that first show didn’t last, however, and by the time season 9’s finale rolled around, traditionally when “Idol” sees some of its biggest numbers, approximately 5 million fewer viewers were tuning in than for season 8.
Songwriter Kara DioGuardi lasted only two lukewarm seasons after replacing original “Idol” judge Paula Abdul. While her work was praised by producers and others at the show, viewers’ response had been mixed, and she was criticized in the media for contributing to Idol‘s lack of focus and downturn in ratings. Stunts like appearing in a bikini to sing with “Bikini Girl” Katrina Darrell didn’t help matters, and Idol‘s ratings slumped.
Idol‘s new judges are generating a lot of enthusiasm and media buzz, so it is likely that the show’s ratings will get at least a temporary boost for attracting Lopez’s and Tyler’s star power. The real numbers might be brought by new mentor Jimmy Iovine, however, as he has promised that the show’s focus will dramatically improve for season 10. Guest mentors and “theme weeks” have apparently been given the ax, allowing performers to stick to the genre they have a knack for rather than making them try to prove themselves across categories. Iovine’s Interscope Records now holds the right to distribute and market “Idol” music, so expect things to get a little more serious. “Idol” will see ratings benefits from all three new panelists, but given its downward slide the last few seasons, bringing ratings back up permanently for this well-worn show may be difficult.
Joyce Lee, “”American Idol” Shake-ups Good for Future Ratings?” CBSNews.com
Lisa de Moraes, “New “American Idol” Judges J-Lo and Steven Tyler Upstaged by the Show’s New Mentor, Jimmy Iovine.” WashingtonPost.com
Corinne Heller, “Kara DioGuardi Confirms She is Leaving “American Idol.”” OnTheRedCarpet.com
People.com, “Kara DioGuardi Shows off Bikini Body at Idol Finale.”