American Idol has been on the air for over a decade, so it’s not uncommon to want to switch up parts of the format every once in a while to keep the show fresh. In today’s Roundup, EP Nigel Lythgoe reveals some of the changes in store for season 12, including borrowing an element that The X Factor used this past fall. Also, in a new promo, three very talented singers audition for the judges. And in new interviews, Keith Urban and Nicki Minaj talk about their roles on the show, mentoring and any fears they had about joining Idol.

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Nigel Lythgoe on Season 12 Changes, Copying X Factor

The past week has seen promotion for American Idol season 12 all over the place, from the TCAs to the season premiere being previewed in select movie theaters. Now, while we’ve heard from the judges on country music, feuds and saying no to contestants, what us diehard fans really want to know is what format changes will be made for this year’s competition. Executive Producer Nigel Lythgoe talked to reporters about just that.

On season 2 of The X Factor, Simon Cowell added an element that has never been done before on any American singing competition show: revealing the voting rankings so viewers can see who received the most and least number of votes. Nigel says that he may add that element to Idol this year: “It’s something we’ve wanted to do for eight or nine years. I’ve always been stopped doing it in this country with people saying, ‘Oh no, people will stop voting if you show that the one person is winning — like Carrie Underwood who won every week — people will stop voting.’ All of a sudden, they managed to do it on The X Factor. … It now looks like we’re going to be copying them. The one thing I believe about American Idol is that everybody else copies American Idol. Yes, I thought it was a good move. … We’ll still discuss it. I’m not sure how we’ll do it.”

But if the leaderboard is implemented this year, the EP wants to take it a step further. “I also like the idea of doing … like the conferences like the NBA do. Let’s see how the west voted for you … Let’s see how the east voted for you … and build the figures up so you can see where the votes are coming in from. … I think we’d see if they’ve got hometown support. Very interesting when you’ve got a Hawaiian contestant, how that can sway the vote.” Doing an overall leaderboard that ranks total votes is one thing, but breaking it up by region sounds odd to me. And if you didn’t catch it, his mention of Hawaii is most likely referencing season 3’s Jasmine Trias, who made it all the way to the Top 3, even though she was nowhere near one of the most talented singers.

One of the noticeable format changes this year, confirmed when FOX announced the season 12 schedule, is the fact that there will be a Top 10 instead of a Top 12 or 13 as has been the case every single year save for season 1. Why go back now? Nigel says, “I’ve never liked a Top 11 or a Top 12 or a Top 13. It was always created in order to fill the transmission times that FOX wanted. So we created Top 13s and Top 12s, and let’s give them wildcard here and let’s bring somebody back; it’s very plain and simple. As we’ve always done with So You Think You Can Dance, there’s your Top 10; it’s a knock-out competition. We’ve always attempted to do that. But we’ve never found a way to do it with everything that’s been asked of us. And this year, we have.”

When FOX announced the schedule, I noted that the timing seems off. With the Top 10 performing on March 13, then the finale would air May 8-9, two weeks earlier than usual. Some speculated that maybe there would be a judges wildcard or some other addition not yet announced. But going by Nigel’s comments here, it sounds like there won’t be a wildcard or anything like that for filler. So that brings us back to the question, What will they do to fill up those two missing weeks? I suppose one way is to only eliminate one contestant after the judges use their Save, but it still doesn’t add up. There’s bound to be some other addition he’s not telling us yet.

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Video: Latest Promo Features Talented Singers

With less than a week to go until season 12 premieres, the latest promo showcases three talented singers who audition for Mariah, Keith, Nicki and Randy, posing the question, “Could one of these singers be the next American Idol?” Mariah says, “You have an inner glow which is always beautiful to see.” This comment sounds a little Paula-esque to me.

What do you make of these singers? Do any of them have the potential to go far?

Keith and Nicki on Mentoring, Fears and Feuds

Both Keith Urban and Nicki Minaj were interviewed by Access Hollywood, and some interesting comments from them may pique your interest. First up, Keith: Before joining Idol, he was a judge/mentor on The Voice in Australia, and it sounds like being a mentor down under is influencing his role on Idol. “If I really wanted to say something more to an artist after the fact, I just go and find them. … Like in Hollywood Week, they’d all be walking off the stage, and I might say, I really loved that song or whatever it is. We don’t get one on one with everybody, of course.”

And even though we all know by now Nicki can be very blunt and honest, she was still afraid of joining the show. Check out the below video to find out why she had those feelings. (And of course the Mariah/Nicki feud is brought up as well.)

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(Image courtesy of FOX)

Jeff Dodge

Staff Writer, BuddyTV

Jeff Dodge, a graduate of Western Washington University, has been a TV news editor for many years and has had the chance to interview multiple reality show stars, including Randy Jackson, Nick Cannon, Heidi Klum, Mel B and John Cena.