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Producer says new 'Idol' will be 'nothing like what you've seen before'

“American Idol” producer Nigel Lythgoe was hitting the pre-Golden Globes party circuit Thursday night. At the Bulgari fundraiser for Save the Children, he chatted with me about his return to the show, saying he “can’t wait to just get the new season out there. End all the speculation about it.”Lythgoe said that this season of “Idol” will be “totally different.” How different does
Producer Nigel Lythgoe during the "American Idol" panel at the FOX portion of the 2011 Winter TCA press tour in Pasadena, Calif., this week.
Producer Nigel Lythgoe during the "American Idol" panel at the FOX portion of the 2011 Winter TCA press tour in Pasadena, Calif., this week.Frederick M. Brown / Getty Images / Today

“American Idol” producer Nigel Lythgoe was hitting the pre-Golden Globes party circuit Thursday night. At the Bulgari fundraiser for Save the Children, he chatted with me about his return to the show, saying he “can’t wait to just get the new season out there. End all the speculation about it.”

Lythgoe said that this season of “Idol” will be “totally different.” How different does he really mean? On a scale of one to 10, this one’s an 11. “The show is nothing like what you’ve seen before, and the reason for that is the judges,” Lythgoe said. Steven (Tyler) and Jennifer (Lopez), they know not just what makes a star, but they know what it’s like to be one, too. And their advice is really geared toward that.”

Lythgoe said that having such big names as judges makes the devastation of not making it to Hollywood, or not advancing all the worse. “It’s one thing to hear ‘you suck’ from someone in the industry,” Lythgoe said. “But to here it from Jennifer, or Steven? And you grew up listening to their music and idolizing them? Now that’s what sucks.”

Judges were one change that “Idol” made this year. Another was lowering the age requirement for those auditioning from 16 to 15 years old. With so many other reality programs that highlight older talent, any chance “Idol” will raise the limit in coming years? “No. They can go on ‘X Factor,’” Lythgoe said. “Plus, the record labels aren’t interested in someone older. People get old on their own, look at Elton John. The labels want them young.”

As for some of those young contestants, Lythgoe said that one of the standouts of the new season is a 15-year-old who “will blow you away.” Lythgoe also spoke to rumors about the men being much stronger than the women this season. “It’s not that they’re stronger, there are just some more unique voices, I’ll give you that,” he said.

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