*“American Idol” kicked off its first ever “Rush Week,” where five of the 15 female contestants were eliminated by show’s end – without ever getting to sing for America.
The remaining 10, chosen by judges Jennifer Lopez, Keith Urban and Harry Connick, Jr., performed Tuesday for our votes, as will 10 of the 15 male finalists tonight (Feb. 19). Five guys will also exit the show without getting to perform. On Thursday, one male and female contestant will be sent packing based on America’s vote.
This new “Rush Week” wasn’t the only thing different on “Idol’s” Tuesday episode. Longtime judge Randy Jackson also debuted as a mentor for the Top 30, giving out performance advice alongside guest mentors and “Idol” alum Chris Daughtry and Adam Lambert.
Wonder Mike and his daughter Carmen Delgina (L) on “American Idol” (Airdate Jan. 29, 2014)
*The “American Idol” audition train rolls into Salt Lake City, Utah on Wednesday’s episode, and it’s there where we find perhaps the most eclectic audition group of this young 13th season – including the daughter of a hip hop legend.
Carmen Delgina, 24, stunned the judges when she revealed that Wonder Mike from the Sugarhill Gang is her daddy.
“Oh my God! Are you kidding?” screamed Jennifer Lopez before footage cut to her pops busting his famous intro to “Rapper’s Delight” in the waiting room.
(L-R) Ryan Seacrest, Keith Urban, Jennifer Lopez, and Harry Connick, Jr., of the television show “American Idol” speak during the FOX portion of the 2014 Television Critics Association Press Tour at the Langham Hotel on January 13, 2014 in Pasadena, California
*In Wednesday’s premiere of “American Idol’s” 13th season, the show’s lone new judge appears to be the most Simon Cowell-like in his impatience with contestants who have no business trying to audition for any singing competition.
Harry Connick, Jr. was never treated with kid gloves by his mentors early on, and the 46-year-old singer, conductor, pianist, composer and actor says dismissing contestants who have no chance of advancing is not being mean – it’s being practical.
“It was my teachers like Ellis Marsalis who would say, ‘You should quit, you don’t have talent for this, you should think of another vocation, you’re not good enough.’ Those were mean things to say,” said Connick at the show’s TCA panel Monday.
“American Idol” season 13 auditions at Georgia’s Gwinnett Arena (July 26, 2013)
*“American Idol” premieres its 13th season next month with Keith Urban the lone judge returning from last year’s catastrophe.
Producers hope the country crooner – alongside “AI” veteran Jennifer Lopez and newcomer Harry Connick Jr. – will have the right combination of chemistry and audience appeal to bring back the viewers who abandoned ship somewhere around Taylor Hicks…if not sooner.
“Except the unexpected with us,” Connick told us during interviews for the new season. “I mean, I didn’t know what to expect and Keith and Jennifer had both done it before and I think the whole fun of it is not knowing what to expect. Like I don’t know what Jennifer is going to say, I don’t know how Keith is going to react and that’s – I think we all roll like that.”
With original judge Randy Jackson replacing Jimmy Iovine as the in-house mentor this season, and original music director Rickey Minor returning from the “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno,” producers have done everything short of bringing back OGs Simon Cowell and Paula Abdul to give the show a fighting chance.
J.Lo, who judged during 2012’s Season 11, returns to the show by popular demand. Below, the single mother of twins says she’s happy to be back and looks forward to the new season.
*Jennifer Lopez, Harry Connick Jr. and Keith Urban were officially announced today as judges for season 13 of “American Idol.” It’s the first time in the show’s history that the panel consists entirely of singers — like NBC’s “The Voice.”
Lopez returns after a two-season run as judge in 2011 and 2012 that was a boon for the show and her career. Connick, a respected jazz singer and musician, proved adept as a mentor in several “Idol” appearances.
Urban’s return to the contest was announced last month by Fox Chairman Kevin Reilly, who said the singer didn’t get a chance to show his personality in his first turn as a judge. Urban appeared overwhelmed last season by the Mariah Carey/Nicki Minaj debacle.
“I think this season of ‘Idol’ is gonna be a blast,” Urban said in a statement Tuesday. “New team, new energy and a whole new field of artists to be discovered and given a chance!”
Fox also announced that original judge Randy Jackson, who exited along with the bickering Carey and Minaj at the end of last season, will be back in a new role as in-house mentor to the contestants. Ryan Seacrest, also part of “Idol” from the start, will again host.
“Surprise, surprise! I am so happy to be back as part of this amazing show that started it all,” said Jackson. “The original talent show is back with a vengeance and ready to discover the best talent in America.”
Record executive Jimmy Iovine had served as mentor in recent seasons. Fox said that Universal Music Group’s Interscope Records, under Iovine’s direction as chairman, will continue to release “Idol” winner and contestant music.
Tryouts are ahead in Atlanta; Austin, Texas; Boston; Detroit; Omaha, Neb.; Salt Lake City and San Francisco. “American Idol” returns in January.
*As speculation grows about another judging shakeup, one friend to the show has popped up as a serious contender.
Crooner Harry Connick, Jr. confirmed to reporters after Thursday’s results show that he has been talking with producers about joining next year’s panel. “They wanted to know if I would be interested and it’s a blast, but I don’t know, it’s hard to make a commitment like that,” Connick said backstage.
The actor and performer, whose new album “Every Man Should Know” is due June 11, mentored the Top 4 contestants this week and even had a heated argument at the judge’s table with Randy Jackson during Wednesday’s live show.
“You need to be completely honest and diplomatic,” Connick said of his judging method. “There’s no reason to be mean, but it’s called being a judge. You have to judge, that’s what you do.”
Connick previously mentored contestants during Season 9 and confirms he was also offered the role back then but declined because “it didn’t work out, there were a lot of things going on on their side and my side.” But his connection to Idol goes all the way back to Season 1, where he was an audience member for Kelly Clarkson’s victory.
“I’m a big fan of the show, and Justin Guarini looked and waved at me!” he said with a laugh.