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'American Idol' announces new way to vote: SuperVote

This is…a slightly new way to vote on American Idol.

SuperVote is an online tool for fans to cast 50 votes all at once via any of the AT&T American Idol Vote destinations: AmericanIdol.com, the mobile app, and Facebook, Fox announced today. Fans will be able to send all 50 votes to one contestant, or allocate them among a few different performers.

This follows a 2011 announcement that allowed fans to vote online. As always, viewers will still be able to vote via a phone call after the show, but now it seems like passionate fans won’t have to spend as much time texting massive amounts of votes to keep their favorite in the game. The new system will kick off tomorrow night, when the 10 girl semifinalists – including Breanna Steer and Janelle Arthur  – take the stage.

We can’t wait to see Nicki Minaj’s reaction to the news.

Read more:
‘American Idol’ recap: Girls Rule, Boys Drool
Nicki Minaj’s ‘Idol’ eye rolls are really irritating
‘American Idol’ 2013: Top 20 guys and girls are…

Simon Cowell is launching another talent competition

Simon Cowell just can’t quit creating new variations on Star Search. The ex-American Idol judge and current X Factor majordomo announced today that his company, Syco Entertainment, is joining forces with YouTube for “The You Generation,” an online talent competition that will be available in 15 languages and 26 different countries.

The twist: It’s not just for singers. According to Syco, “You Generation” is seeking “unconventional and original talents” in a variety of categories, including photography, cooking, visual art, and — perhaps most excitingly — magic. The contest begins next month, when would-be contestants can begin uploading their video entries onto the competition’s YouTube channel. Prizes will be awarded “every fortnight,” with a grand prize coming at the end of one year.

See the amusingly melodramatic trailer for “You Generation” below:

READ FULL STORY

'American Idol' Hollywood Round: What to expect

Gone are the halcyon days of American Idol auditions, in which the judges would put 50-plus people (of whom we viewers would get to meet at least… 10?) through to the next round. Tonight, the two-week “Hollywood Round” — guys this week, girls next — begins on Fox. “The minute we hit Hollywood, we go, ‘God, we’ve got 300 kids here,” executive producer Ken Warwick told EW in the midst of shooting Hollywood Round footage. “So the whole mental thing changes to ‘Who can we cut, and why?”

Below, Idol honchos Warwick and Nigel Lythgoe on what to expect. READ FULL STORY

Former 'Idol' contestant Corey Clark sues Fox and others

Another American Idol contestant is in the news, and this time, it’s season 2’s Corey Clark. Clark filed a lawsuit Friday against Fox, E! Entertainment, and others for allegedly defaming him in comments made about his exit from the show as well as his alleged relationship with Paula Abdul. (EW reached out to reps for Fox, E!, and Paula Abdul; A rep for Fox declined to comment, E! says they have not yet been served with the lawsuit so have no comment, and Abdul has yet to respond).

The suit, filed in Tennessee, sues for defamation and false light invasion of privacy, among other similar charges, according to the 44-page court document obtained by EW.

In 2002, Clark auditioned for American Idol and was a finalist contestant before he was disqualified. Idol says he was booted because he failed to disclose a previous arrest. According to the lawsuit, the charges were dropped, and Clark claims he did disclose the original arrest to Idol producers. Clark alleges he was cast in the “villain” role of a “scripted” television program without his knowledge. Concurrently, he began a brief “love affair” with Abdul. While Clark didn’t talk publicly about the affair, he says in the lawsuit that senior producers knew, and that was ultimately the reason he was kicked off the show. READ FULL STORY

InsideTV Podcast: Is Mariah Carey the most boring 'American Idol' judge...ever?

Image Credit: Michael Becker/Fox

Image Credit: Michael Becker/Fox

Other than a possibly manufactured feud with Nicki Minaj that she appears to want no part of, has Mariah Carey added anything to the American Idol judging panel? Considering all the vocal expertise at her disposal, we hoped she’d have some legitimate constructive criticism to share with this year’s auditioning contestants. Instead, she merely smiles, says yes or no in as boring a manner as possible, and then goes back to praying that her fellow female judge does not light into her again. Mariah’s yawn-worthy entrance onto the American Idol stage is just one of the first impressions Jessica Shaw and I will be breaking down on this week’s edition of the InsideTV Podcast.

Also up for discussion on the new season of Idol: Is Randy the only judge actually willing to criticize? How are we feeling about the steady stream of inspirational sob stories being shoved down our throats? And does Keith Urban deserve better than being forced to play peacemaker between the two feuding divas? Also, who are our early favorites among the contestants? Click on the audio player icon to hear our thoughts and see if you agree. (The American Idol discussion beings at 24:00.)

But first, it’s time to get busy with one of our TV favorites — Busy Philipps! That’s right, the Cougar Town star calls in to talk about the comedy’s big move to TBS, her boobs getting a lot bigger (due to her pregnancy, natch), and what’s in store for her character coming up. She also shares some memories from her Freaks and Geeks days and plays a few kick-ass rounds of Jessica’s new game — 7 Degrees of Busy Philipps. READ FULL STORY

'American Idol' Night 2 ratings shrink gap: Are the new judges working?

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The second night of Fox’s 12th season of American Idol showed a sign of improvement for the reality veteran.

Make no mistake, Thursday’s Idol was lower rated than the premiere — that’s standard, especially since the show shifted to a Wednesday-Thursday pattern a couple years back. But instead of dropping 19 percent year over year like the first episode, Night 2 was down only 2 percent — a mere tenth of a point — from 2012. And even that gap could get erased when the final national ratings come in later.

In other words: Whether you love or hate the addition of Mariah Carey, Keith Urban and Nicki Minaj, more viewers stuck with the show this season after checking out the first episode. During the last couple years, Idol ratings dropped at least 20 percent between the show’s first two nights; this time the decline was only 7 percent. In fact, looking at the chart below, this the first time Night 2 hasn’t dropped significantly year over year since Idol‘s ratings plunge began in 2008. The two-hour telecast delivered 16.2 million viewers and a 5.6 rating among adults 18-49. Maybe Fox’s reality chief Mike Darnell was onto something when he told us yesterday that the judging panel was generating helpful buzz.

A tougher test will come when CBS resumes airing original episodes of its powerful Thursday lineup (CBS ran repeats last night). The Big Bang Theory is pulling down larger numbers lately than last night’s Idol performance and seems likely to win the night outright in the coming weeks.

Also Thursday: ABC was once again hit across the board by Idol, all shows dropping 7-17 percent. The return of The CW’s Vampire Diaries had its best numbers in a couple months (followed by a repeat of The Carrie Diaries pilot which came precariously close to tying its low-rated premiere). In fact, Vampire Diaries beat NBC’s 30 Rock and 1600 Penn in the demo. NBC’s comedy block was down — except Parks & Recreation, which jumped up from its last telecast six weeks ago.

Check out Annie Barrett’s Idol recap here.

Idol Night 2 history: READ FULL STORY

'American Idol' premiere ratings down: 'NCIS' scored more viewers

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The only real question was: By how much?

Fox’s American Idol returned Wednesday night to its lowest-rated and least-watched regular-season premiere telecast ever (the first season aired during the summer and generally isn’t counted). Idol delivered 17.9 million viewers and a 6.0 adults 18-49 demo rating. That’s down 19 percent from last year’s opener, which was the previous lowest-ever record-holder.

The numbers also mean last night’s Idol premiere will not be the most-watched entertainment show this week — Tuesday’s NCIS had 22.9 million viewers. This is the first time another series was seen by more viewers than Idol during its regular season premiere week.

Fox was braced for worse. Last year Idol was down an unprecedented 24 percent after the network launched The X Factor in the fall. This fall had both X Factor and NBC’s powerful The Voice, so competition show burnout by the time Idol opened seemed likely. Idol still managed to rank as the top-rated singing show premiere this season.

Fox’s American Idol has been largely on a downward trend since 2008 due to the reality mega-hit getting older and facing a broadcast landscape that’s increasingly crowded with singing shows. High-profile new judges Mariah Carey, Nicki Minaj and Keith Urban have made for plenty of fun headlines, but media insiders know they’re sandbags on the levy. Last night I predicted (rather accurately as it turned out) that Idol would return down 18 percent in the adult demo. Oddly enough, the only new judge in American Idol or The X Factor history that ever seemingly outright prevented a premiere ratings decline wasn’t a high-priced diva, but a celebrity lacking any real music industry experience — Ellen DeGeneres in 2010.

Viewers had mixed reactions to the premiere. To some, having the feel-good show focus on Carey vs. Minaj sniping was a turn-off. “If what we can look forward to [this season] is the immature, catty, out of control, ridiculous diva banter/bashing we won’t be tuning in for long,” one reader wrote on my Idol premiere ratings prediction post last night. While EW’s Idol recapper Annie Barrett summarized, “By the second hour of NYC auditions, Nicki had completely taken over the panel — shouting out directions to the contestants and always speaking first. You know, it’s generally fine if someone feels the need to do that. Compared to the autopilot judging on The X Factor and even Idol last season, I am thrilled to have someone in the driver’s seat, and beyond ecstatic that all four judges appeared to be awake and even [gasp!] interested in what was happening. The question is whether millions of American Idol viewers will accept and enjoy that our season 12 chauffeur appears to be rainbow sherbet wig enthusiast.”

See my Idol ratings prediction post for more analysis. And see Barrett’s Idol premiere recap here.

Other shows: The CW’s Arrow actually managed to improve a tenth of a point from its last telecast despite a winter hiatus and Idol competition. Supernatural was up a tick too. ABC’s comedy block was down slightly across the board, though Nashville improved a tick. Criminal Minds was down 10 percent, while CSI was up a notch.

UPDATE: Fox reacts to ‘Idol’ premiere ratings, says feud will intensify

Last Night’s Chart: READ FULL STORY

'American Idol': Let's predict the ratings

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Will Mariah and Nicki rescue American Idol? Or are we in for another “Idol ratings dive!” headline?

Below is a chart of all the previous Idol premieres (including that funky doesn’t-really-count first season which aired during the summer of 2002). You can see why Fox shook up the panel this season. The show’s adults 18-49 premiere rating peaked in 2007 with a massive 15.8. The numbers ebbed down in ’08 and ’09. Then, in 2010, the premiere actually perked up a tick.

What caused the show to halt its decline that year? It’s impossible to know for sure, but the consensus from insiders is that media buzz surrounding the hiring of talk show host Ellen DeGeneres for the judges panel kept the ratings afloat — even though she barely appeared in the first episode (many casual Idol viewers were unaware that DeGeneres didn’t join the Idol team until after the early auditions). If that theory is correct, it’s interesting that the only judge shakeup in American Idol or The X Factor history that ever prevented a ratings decline wasn’t by hiring some high-priced diva, but a celebrity who lacked any real music industry experience.

Fox hoped Idol ratings would stabilize, but the show’s premiere had a 17 percent drop in 2011 and then an unprecedented 24 percent drop last year. What will tonight’s premiere bring?

If any new judge drives viewers to Idol this evening, it probably won’t be Carey or Minaj, despite all the headlines over their supposed feud. Granted, Minaj could help deliver eyeballs this season once we get a sample of her cutting criticism. But for the premiere, I suspect Keith Urban is best positioned to help the ratings. Country music award shows and the success of The Voice (which has country star Blake Shelton) suggest country appeal can potentially drive broadcast viewers.

One executive at a non-Fox network suspected Idol could be relatively stable tonight since last year’s big change of having X Factor run in Fox’s fall probably heavily contributed to its previous decline — so this year the Factor effect is already factored in (so to speak). Another guessed a drop around 10 percent.

So let’s make a prediction for the 12 season debut! Taking into account Idol ratings history … Fox’s weak fall performance … NBC’s The Voice being added to the fall … recent album sales of Carey, Urban and Minaj … my level of annoyance at Idol billboards in West L.A. …  the current market price of soybean futures … and the angle of the sun on my laptop keyboard at this moment … I’m going to somewhat pessimistically predict an 18 percent decline to a 6.1 rating. Thoughts?

Also, check out Annie Barrett’s 12 Wishes for Idol Season 12.

UPDATE: American Idol premiere ratings are in: Suck it, Nate Silver!

Idol Premiere History: READ FULL STORY

'American Idol': New featurette offers boobs, clown costumes, and one tender Mariah Carey/Nicki Minaj moment -- EXCLUSIVE VIDEO

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Granted, Mariah probably only looks so giddy here because a sassy male contestant has just told Nicki, “Shut yo mouth.” (Hidden gem: Randy Jackson’s hand, conjuring up this television magic.) Below, we’ve got an exclusive featurette to get you ready for American Idol‘s season 12 premiere this Wednesday and Thursday on Fox. It’s the first clip I’ve seen that shows more than just a split second of a hopeful’s crazy-good vibrato — as well as much more of the intra-judge dynamic.

We’ve also got Mariah Carey’s boobs competing with Mariah Carey’s hair for Most Volumnious in her single shot. You can’t blame her; it’s hard out there when the other diva at the table is an even bigger wig collector than you. Check it out: READ FULL STORY

'American Idol': Watch a live Q&A with the judges and Ryan Seacrest! -- VIDEO

Randy Jackson, Mariah Carey, Ryan Seacrest, Nicki Minaj, and Keith Urban are doing an hour-long Q&A at 8:30 p.m. ET following a private press screening of the season 12 premiere — and we’ve got the live feed!  Will Randy wear a beaded pin? Will former shopping buddies Mariah and Nicki come up with euphemisms even more press-friendly than “I’m just not that into her” re: each other? Will Keith Urban open his mouth? Find out….liiiiive!….in the player below.  READ FULL STORY

'American Idol' will return to Fox on....

Fox just unveiled its winter schedule, which includes the start of the new Kevin Bacon drama The Following, the heartbreaking series finale of Fringe, and the return of that dang talent show.

Sunday, Jan. 6

4:00 PM-CC ET live/

1:00 PM-CC PT live   NFC WILDCARD GAME

8:00-8:30 PM              THE SIMPSONS

8:30-9:00 PM              BOB’S BURGERS

9:00-9:30 PM              FAMILY GUY

9:30-10:00 PM            AMERICAN DAD

Tuesday, Jan. 8

8:00-8:30 PM              RAISING HOPE

8:30-9:00 PM              BEN AND KATE

9:00-9:30 PM              NEW GIRL

9:30-10:00 PM            THE MINDY PROJECT READ FULL STORY

Best of 2012: From 'Bachelorette' to Fox News and 'Revenge' -- The fights of the year

Whether TV’s feistiest figures were slapping each other down with words or fists, there was plenty of strife to go around this year. Below, we reminisce fondly over all the boob slapping, bare knuckle boxing, Bachelorette beatdowns, and more. READ FULL STORY

Steven Tyler rips new 'Idol' judges; Nicki Minaj calls him racist

A happy American Idol judging family? Dream on.

But according to former American Idol judge Steven Tyler, harmony should be the ideal. Want that peacefulness explained via a sort-of gross birth metaphor? Tyler’s got you covered:

“I know that they’ve got something going on on the judges’ panel, [and] it shouldn’t be that, it should be just the opposite: They should have something going on, which is called ‘camaraderie,’ ” he said in an interview with MTV. “They should have something going on so thick and beautiful that they can lay it over the new talent that’s trying to birth itself. It needs to be birthed, not judged by ‘entertainment’ factors, it needs to be judged by people that [are] honest, true, that have the ‘it’ factor. Not the ‘it’ factor because they can fight. The f— is that all about?”

The rocker goes on to say, “These kids…they’re scared to death; you’re not going to get the best [out of them]. … If it was Bob Dylan, Nicki Minaj would have had him sent to the cornfield! Whereas, if it was Bob Dylan with us, we would have brought the best of him out, as we did with Phillip Phillips. Just saying.” READ FULL STORY

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