PASADENA, CA–If the 10th season of American Idol turns out to be as dull as the American Idol TCA panel, this deal is in trouble.
This morning’s TCA session had its moments–mainly a few quips from Stephen Tyler and Jennifer Lopez’s outrageous leopard-print pumps–but missing from the session was the blunt Brit, the straw that stirred this drink, Simon Cowell. Cowell always told the truth here at press tour, and his candid banter was sorely missed. One memorable press tour session, the other Idol judges made no effort to cover up for last minute no-show Paula Abdul. Those were the days.
This morning, there was no tension in the room, just the usual promo blather we get in other sessions. Phrases like, “we’re going to kick it up a notch” landed with a thud. Ryan Seacrest sat silent throughout save for a few murmurs. There were nine people up on the stage, as if sheer numbers would make up for the fact that Cowell was adios.
Even Tyler and Lopez looked bored about 10 minutes into the packed press tour session. Tyler woke up in time to get in a few colourful zings. He got rock star macho at one point, gushing about Lopez to the point other panel members started reminding Tyler that J-Lo’s hubby Marc Anthony was in the room. Tyler’s excuse was that he was Italian, and, well, these things happen.
Returning executive producer Nigel Lithgoe revealed that the contestants will be in Vegas at one point to attend the Beatles Love show and that they’ll be challenged to learn a Beatles song in a day. That doesn’t sound that tough.

Lopez: the shoe fits

Returning judge Randy Jackson, we learned, has slid down to Simon’s old chair on the judging panel. Dawg.
Stood next to Tyler in the crowded post session scrum. The dude wears snake skin sneakers. When I asked him why, he said it was because his feet are so messed up, somebody in his posse tricked these shoes out for him. Dangling from his neck were enough chains to make Mr. T jealous, including one with a silver, bejeweled skull on it. If you were going out for Halloween as a glammed up rock star, this is exactly the getup you would search for at The Party Factory.

Tyler told me he has had no conversations at all with Cowell, just never happened. A reporter who has covered him for years from the music side told him he was lookin’ good, what was his secret. As he was dragged offstage by a beefy security guard, he said he has been sober for a year. I’m not saying I hope he falls off the wagon, but it would really juice up the show.
Lopez looked great up close and from a distance. North American viewers will also want to get close enough to smell her Jan. 19 and 20 when Idol returns. With Simon gone, however, there’s a different kind of stink on this show that Lopez’s many fragrant scents simply can’t mask. Seacrest out.

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