After what was arguably one of its weakest seasons, "American Idol" continues to tinker under the hood to give the top-rated reality singing show a new look going into January's season 10 opener.
Returning executive producer Nigel Lythgoe has already promised to focus more on the contestants than the judges — though they, of course, are mostly new — in addition to dropping the age limit to 15, tossing out the top 24 and giving the contestants video challenges.
But that's not all. According to The Hollywood Reporter, when new judges Steven Tyler and Jennifer Lopez take their seats next to sole returning judge Randy Jackson, they will oversee a show where fans could get a deeper look at the contestant's behind-the-scenes lives. The key word for this year is "transparency," a concept reportedly being championed by series creator Simon Fuller, who is searching for ways to give viewers more insight into what goes on behind the curtains while making the contestants more accessible to their followers.
The story does not cite a source and did not get an official comment from the Fox network about the reported changes, which are still in the development stage, but one of the biggest is a plan to have the top 12 singers live in the same house in the Hollywood Hills during the competition. While the show has flirted with giving fans a peek at the singers' offstage lives before, the addition of this reality staple could give "Idol" a whole new feel and pacing. At press time, it was unclear if the "Idol" house will be a visible part of the on-air show, with producers withholding a decision until they see if the footage is compelling.
Additionally, after letting the singers interact with fans for the first time on social networking outlets like Twitter last season — before retrenching and consolidating all the accounts into a single, bland feed — producers are also considering relaxing the social media rules and allowing the finalists to chat with fans via Twitter.
In another major change, producers are thinking about mixing things up after the 325 golden ticket winners compete in Hollywood. Under a reported tentative deal, after the 325 sing it out in Los Angeles, 60 quarterfinalists would then fly to Las Vegas and "do an integration" with the Cirque du Soleil Beatles show "Love," after which 40 will return to Los Angeles. Those 40 would then be cut down to the final 12, who would then move into the house.
A spokesperson for "Idol" said Fox had no comment on the Reporter story at press time.
All of these potential changes could unfold on the canvas of what is truly the biggest switch this year: a time slot shift. Instead of the traditional Tuesday performance/ Wednesday results show, "Idol" will now switch to a Wednesday performance/ Thursday results show.
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