Inside 'American Idol's Big Gamble: New Judges, New Night, New Look

VIDEO: Sources say Jennifer Lopez is no longer a potential American Idol judge.

It's back to the beginning for "American Idol," which is trying to shake up its timeworn formula while returning to its roots for its 10th season.

Though the show kept its No. 1 primetime spot last season with an average 24 million viewers, the ratings were lackluster, sliding nine percent.

Now the veteran talent show is returning with new judges, its original executive producer Simon Lythgoe and a renewed emphasis on the program's original mission -- finding the next music superstar.

"It's the 10th anniversary, a milestone moment in the show," The Hollywood Reporter's music editor Shirley Halperin told "It's about regaining 'Idol' glory."

Up to now, the big news has been the addition of new judges Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler filling the seats vacated by Simon Cowell, Ellen DeGeneres and Kara DioGuardi. They will join Randy Jackson, who will take Cowell's old seat as Top Dog.

Cowell, one of the three original judges, left after nine years to work on bringing his British talent show "The X Factor" to American audiences this fall. Comedian DeGeneres, who never quite jived with the other judges, departed after just one season. And songwriter DioGuardi, the unpopular "fourth judge," found herself booted for the new season's reboot.

In an exclusive interview with Entertainment Weekly, the new team conceded the new season won't be the same without Cowell.

"There are less clouds of smoke," joked Ryan Seacrest, who will be returning as host. "We start earlier. There's less — what is that English dish he always ordered for lunch -- shepherd's pie? He loves shepherd's pie."

"No, it's the blood pudding," Jackson said. Then, turning serious, he added, "It's a different kind of vibe. It's a different energy now. And I think in season 10 the show actually really needed it."

Jackson said the new team is not out to replicate any of the previous judges, including Paula Abdul, who left at the end of Season 7.

"We're more of a collaborative judging group," Lopez explained. "We're always leaning over to each other and saying, 'Oh my God, I think she's good.' 'Oof, I don't get it.' 'You don't like it?' I mean, not in a way where it becomes disrespectful to [the contestant's] moment, but we discuss things. We just have a totally different style than any of the past judging tables."

When the new season starts Jan. 19, the judges hope the attention will switch to the music and namely the contestants who are making it.

Tyler raved to EW about the contestants, who, he said, are "just astounding" this year.

"We throw the drift net out and look what comes up?" Tyler says. "Gold. [I'm] crying, honestly, from someone who hit the notes so sweetly and beautifully, not just that it's the end of the day and thank God this motherf---er is the last one. Not that."

Halperin, who profiled the new season for The Hollywood Reporter, gives a quick rundown on the biggest changes in the new season.

A New Night

You read it right, "Idol" will premiere this year on Wednesday night, with results on Thursday -- a switch from its Tuesday and Wednesday time slot the last nine years.

Could it be because "Dancing with the Stars," which airs Monday and Tuesday nights, was nipping at the heels of that talent contest and even outdrew it for the first time last April?

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