American Idol Auditions for Brand Reinvention

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Think the hubbub made over Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler joining the cast of American Idol is just ridiculous hooey? You’re probably right”¦ but we can’t help but wonder if the newfangled version of the show, which premieres tomorrow night, signals more than just personality changes. Sure, Simon Cowell and his faux-meanie act were part of the series’ success. But the other changes made to the show could be efforts to keep up with the ever-evolving world of network television while clinging onto those beloved endorsement deals.

If the new Idol belly flops, all fingers will point at J-Lo and Steven Tyler – but the right direction for the blame game will be returning producer Nigel Lythgoe. Lythgoe, who helms the tween sensation So You Think You Can Dance, has returned to Idol to infuse the show with the much-coveted youth demographic. Lythgoe has said he wants AI to get back to work on focusing on the talent of signers instead of back and forth between the judges, a formula which has worked wonders with SYTYCD. The show is pushing a huge social media campaign using Twitter and Facebook to ignite voters and to start the conversation about contestants.

Staying on the youth tip, The Hollywood Reporter recently said Idol is toying with the idea of moving the finalists into a mansion together a la The Real World or Jersey Shore (an idea the program already tried back in season one). Also, the show is moving nights from Tuesday-Wednesday to Wednesday-Thursday, taking it out of the competitive line of fire faced by the older-skewed Dancing with the Stars. But will these changes even matter?

Sixty-seven percent of television aficionados asked in a nationwide survey said they believed American Idol had seen better days, while entertainment writers are already lining up to be the first to announce the death of the series. Pfft. The fact is, Idol remains a ratings powerhouse and a titan of a brand. If, by some chance, this is the series’ last year on American television, producers won’t end up on welfare; the show continues to make billions of dollars around the globe in international versions. The Carrie Underwood era is long gone, granted”¦ but we don’t think Idol is any immediate danger of becoming extinct.

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