Producers Confirm Big Changes For American Idol

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Steven Tyler, Jennifer Lopez, Randy Jackson & Ryan Seacrest

While “head judge” Randy Jackson will undoubtedly still separate contestants into the “fire” and the “pitchy,” American Idol execs confirmed to the Hollywood Reporter that much will change when the show returns with Steven Tyler and Jennifer Lopez later this month. While many of the Idol alterations were rumored by the same magazine last month (coincidence?), it’s now official that the Top 24 will likely be reduced to the Top 12 or 15, online voting is in the works, and contestants will no longer have to leave their genre of choice. “We’re not going to ask a country singer to sing an R&B song, or an R&B singer to do Led Zeppelin,” said new contestant mentor Jimmy Iovine.

While the contestants will indeed be living in a mansion together, it’s not clear whether American Idol will go full Real World on us as suggested. Other big news: a revamped set (shock!) and contestants singing more original songs—songs that will be released during the run of the show. Seems the producers have realized that, by the time a contestant gets an album together after the show, no one actually cares. “The sands of time are slipping through the hour glass and you want to capitalize while the public is so engaged in the story of winning or losing,” said Ron Fair. Only two more weeks before we find out how much sand American Idol has left!

[Photo: Getty Images]