[03/15/11 - 12:11 AM]
Live at the Paley Festival: FOX's "American Idol"
By Jim Halterman (TFC)

Please note: As a courtesy, please do not reproduce these comments to newsgroups, forums or other online places. Links only please.

7:04 PM - Night ten of the 28th Annual Paley Festival at the Saban Theater in Los Angeles kicks off with a panel featuring FOX's "American Idol."

7:07 PM - The Paley Center's Betsy Levikow welcomes the crowd and talks up the current tenth season and how the show that launched careers of Carrie Underwood, Kelly Clarkson, Daughtry and Jennifer Hudson has reinvented itself this year with the addition of Steven Tyler and Jennifer Lopez as judges. The very vocal crowd seems to agree.

7:09 PM - Betsy introduces a giddy David Carver from Entertainment Weekly, who does his best Ryan Seacrest imitation and says, "This... is Paleyfest!" He then admits to being pretty "obsessed" with "Idol" and pulls out the EW cover story he wrote on the show during it's first season with Kelly Clarkson, Justin Guarini and Tamyra Gray featured. He says that during that first season the show was getting 10 million viewers an episode. Now it gets three times that!

7:12 PM - A clip reel of the best moments of the current 10th season thus far puts the crowd in the mood for the panel.

7:21 PM - David announces that only nine of the 12 contestants are here because of the other three (Scotty McCreery, Lauren Alaina and Thia Megia) are minors. The rest of the contestants come out: Casey Adams! Naima Adedapo! James Durbin! Stefano Langone! Jacob Lusk! Paul McDonald! Haley Reinhart! Karen Rodriguez! Pia Toscano! Executive Producer Mike Darnell! Executive Producer Ken Warwick! Judge Randy Jackson! Judge Steven Tyler! (No Jennifer Lopez. No Ryan Seacrest. No reason for why they are not in attendance.)

7:26 PM - David asks how the producers approached season 10 and the changes that needed to be made with the exit of original judge Simon Cowell. "One thing we knew we shouldn't do was replace Simon," says Ken. "We had to go with something completely different."

7:28 PM - In terms of the group of "Idol" contestants, Randy comments on how this year they're really looking for "the whole package." In the past, he says, there were contestants who could sing but they were not stars.

7:29 PM - Mike remembered meeting Steven Tyler for the first time and said the Aerosmith front man was warm, sincere and not snobby. After five minutes with him, Mike said, "We found the guy!" (Jennifer was chosen first and Steven was the 40th person they had talked to about filling the other empty judge's seat.)

7:31 PM - Steven said it took him a total of two minutes to say "yes" to the job. He was also on a long flight when he watched Jennifer Lopez's movie "The Back-Up Plan" and saw just how much heart she had. He remembered thinking, "If I could sit next to that... this could be a beautiful thing."

7:33 PM - Ryan Seacrest hosted a dinner with Randy, Steven and Jennifer and the producers to see how they would all mesh. Mike says, "There were all really nice people and nice people tend to get along." Randy adds that they were gelling after only five minutes. "We got on like a house on fire," he says.

7:34 PM - David asks Steven about the Tyler-isms that he uses on the show. Steven says he writes little bits of phrases and puts them in his pocket and these help him remember things to write songs. "I write these little phrases down that I love," he says. They may serve another purpose since he jokes, "Of all the things I ever lost, I miss my mind the most."

7:38 PM - Ken is asked about the decision this year to limit the amount of time the contestants can be on-stage with an instrument. "Last season we got into a situation where kids hid behind their instruments." The contestants all agree it isn't a bad thing since they can show their diversity. Contestant Casey Abrams says he's fine not playing his instrument right away but promises, "When I can play the bass, it's gonna happen." Stefano says, "It shows your chops, shows you're diverse... that's huge!"

7:42 PM - Naima shares a favorite word of hers - "overstand," which means more than simply "understand" something. When you overstand, "there's no doubt in your mind," she says.

7:43 PM - James Durbin, who has been forthcoming about having Tourette's Syndrome, is congratulated by David for being so honest. "It's cool that I get to be the spokesperson for it." The multi-talented Durbin sings, plays guitar, piano and also draws, which, he says, is "another way I can escape my day and go into my mind."

7:46 PM - "I thought he was playing with me," says Jacob Lusk of what he thought when he was told he'd made the cut for the top 13.

7:48 PM - Paul McDonald laughs when people tell him they like his dance moves. "I've been touring for five years with these same moves... it's called entertaining."

7:53 PM - Ken confirms that the Top 10 (not Top 12) will be a part of the upcoming "American Idol Tour."

7:55 PM - Karen Rodriguez is very optimistic about what the show can do for her career, whether she wins or not. "I already know I'll have some amazing doors open in America and Latin America."

7:57 PM - Haley on keeping it together when you're in the bottom three on the show like she was this past week: "You always have to keep your composure and go out there with your head up."

8:00 PM - Ken says a lot of thought goes into how they're going to reveal the bottom three each week. Randy admits that he does not know who is going to be in the final three until it's announced.

8:01 PM - "We've now gotten to the point where we're cool disagreeing with each other," says Randy of not always being on the same page as Steven and Jennifer when it comes to the contestants.

8:04 PM - David starts a lightning round asking the contestants a variety of questions about all the contestants living together. Who is the loudest? Everyone points to Jacob. Who is shyest? Thia. Most confident - Stefano. Always late - Karen. Troublemaker - Paul volunteers himself. Pigs out the most - Jacob, who laughs, "I like to eat!" Who are the mom and dad of the group? Naima is the Mom and James is the Dad.

8:06 PM - Ken reveals that this week's theme night will feature songs from each contestant's birth year. Fun!

8:08 PM - Q&A time and a little girl in an adorable sparkly red dress asks if she can get her picture taken with Randy and Steven, who invite her up to the stage to take a photo.

8:10 PM - David asks who of the contestants thought they were going home when there were still 24 of them? Naima, Stefano and Pia all raise their hands.

8:11 PM - A fan asks Paul about whether he's leaving his band Grand Magnolias for good. Paul says he's taking a break but with whatever comes next he wants to incorporate the guys in the band somehow. "They're like family," he says.

8:12 PM - Since Randy had played with Journey in the past, a fan asks if he would ever go on tour if Journey hit the road again. Randy reveals that he sees Journey lead singer Steve Perry every few weeks and the most recent time he said to Steve, "If you do it, I'll do it." Time will tell...

8:16 PM - A fan asks why every season Randy always says, "This is the best group of kids ever... " which prompts Randy to rise out of his chair in protest until the fan finishes by saying "...this year it's true!" The crowd cheers in agreement.

8: 17 PM - Ken agrees that you definitely don't have to be the winner of "American Idol" to have a career. He does say that no matter where the kids go in their post-"Idol" careers, "They'll never work harder then they will on this show."

8:21 PM - "Do you have any plans tonight?" asks a nine-year old boy of contestant Pia Toscano. After the laughter subsides, Pia admits she has no plans but going home to rehearse.

8:25PM - A fan says to the newest judge, "Thanks, Steven. It's been a joy to watch." Steven is genuinely touched and says that the one thing he has already gotten out of his "Idol" gig is that it's made him put on the brakes and "it allows me to be who I am... I've always been under the hood of rock-n-roll." He added that he loves "Idol" for letting him be himself and, due to his past addictions, he mentions that "I'm in AA up to my neck." (The guy seems truly to be enjoying himself.)

8:27 PM - That's a wrap for tonight's panel. Brian will be covering PaleyFest tomorrow with the "Community" panel.

And for more PaleyFest coverage - past and present - visit our Paley Center topic page.

  [march 2011]  


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