'American Idol' exec producer Ken Warwick on the new judging panel: 'It was something that we thought, it could be great, and it might be a disaster'
Image Credit: Michael Becker/FoxAmerican Idol‘s new judging trifecta — veteran Randy Jackson and newbies Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler — have consumed much of the buzz around the music juggernaut’s landmark 10th season. We’ve seen them working together for five weeks now, and generally, it seems that, as a group, they’re a big hit with viewers. But what do the powers-that-be behind American Idol think of the chemistry between the new panel? Exec producer Ken Warwick tells EW that he’s been very pleased with how the trio have gelled so far. “I have to say, it has been absolutely fabulous,” Warwick says. “We’re ecstatic. It’s never about the individuals. It’s always about the chemistry between them. It really is a star-studded panel, which is what we wanted.”
Much of Warwick’s commentary about the new judges, as you might guess, focuses on Tyler, who’s been delighting audiences with his off-the-cuff, say-everything style. “Steven says exactly what he feels, whenever it feels like it,” Warwick explains of Tyler’s appeal. “He’s a rocker, a true rocker in every sense of the word. There was a concern: ‘Oh my goodness. He’s completely out of his element. He’s completely away from anything he’s done for the last 40 or 50 years. How is that gonna go?’ And we took a leap of faith, to be truthful. It was something that we thought, it could be great, and it might be a disaster.” But in Warwick’s mind, Tyler’s addition has been anything but a disaster. “The truth of the matter is, for us, here, it has given a totally different chemistry to that panel,” Warwick says. “And it’s a chemistry that everybody loves. Bless him, he took a huge jump of faith as well. Huge, huge risk for him. His credibility could have gone completely down the toilet. And a lot of people expected that what was going to happen — including his own band, to a certain extent. It’s great for me not only to know that he’s hugely successful us but that he’s actually laid all those criticisms to rest. And he can turn around and say, ‘See guys? I did the right thing.'”
In terms of Lopez, Warwick had fewer — but just as powerful — remarks. “We knew that if we wanted someone who had credibility and looked fabulous and had star power, Jennifer would clean up,” Warwick says. “You could never say, ‘Oh but how do you know, she’s never done it.’ Well now, she’s done it all and she’s done it all brilliantly. And the fact is that she looks gorgeous doing it.”
Overall, Warwick seems pleased with the changes they’ve made at Idol this season. “We live in a world where 10 down is the new up,” Warwick says with a laugh, referencing the fact that ratings on the broadcast networks have been sliding for years. “And the truth of the matter is that we’ve remained virtually level. Which is huge. Especially after being on the air for 10 years. Are you kidding me?”
Tanner on Twitter: @EWTanStransky