'American Idol' Staff Reveals How the Show Survived Simon Cowell's Exit
By Raphael Chestang
In the new issue of The Hollywood Reporter, on stands now, the decision makers behind "American Idol" reveal the never-before-seen struggle to keep the show afloat after Simon Cowell quit.
Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler, who were brought to the judging panel to revamp the identity of TV's most viewed program, grace the THR cover this week accompanied by "AI" veterans Ryan Seacrest and Randy Jackson. These four represent the new face of the singing competition but there is an entire team of producers working behind the scenes without whom Steven and J.Lo would have never been offered the gig.
"My feeling was that you have to go in a new direction," said executive producer Nigel Lythgoe. "Whoever replaced Cowell would've been a pale imitation, so I certainly didn't want to go that way."
Nigel revealed that the decision was made by a committee that comprised himself, Mike Darnell, Cecile Frot-Coutaz, Simon Fuller and Ken Warwick.
Mike Darnell disclosed that J.Lo was one of Simon Cowell's choices to fill the void and that she was considered long before Steven Tyler, who seemed to be a bit of a wild card.
"I remember Cecile telling me she was going to go meet Steven Tyler and she wasn't quite sure what to expect," said Ryan Seacrest. "He blew her away. She said, 'You would think he's this tough, badass rock star, which he is, but he's probably got the biggest heart on the panel.'"
Randy Jackson compared the chemistry of the new cast to "a house on fire," saying, "Ryan and I looked at each other and knew it was definitely going to work."
Watch "American Idol" Thursday on FOX and be sure to tune in for the season finale next Tuesday and Wednesday as a new "Idol" gets crowned.