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"American Idol" producers unconcerned about competition

Hosts, producers and executives of "American Idol" take part in a panel session at the FOX Winter TCA Press Tour in Pasadena
Hosts, producers and executives of "American Idol" take part in a panel session at the FOX Winter TCA Press Tour in Pasadena

LOS ANGELES (Reuters)- "American Idol" producers and judges said on Sunday they were unconcerned about competition from new reality singing shows "The Voice" and "The X Factor," as they prepared to go into their 11th season, while host Ryan Seacrest's future with the show was left unanswered.

"Idol" executive producer Ken Warwick called the show the "gold standard" in the latest crop of reality singing talent shows on television and that it was still the path to stardom for singers.

"Leona Lewis (winner of UK's 'X Factor') was a one and a half hit star for ten minutes, but there's no Kelly Clarksons, Carrie Underwoods, Jennifer Hudsons - they are real stars and none of these other shows are producing these," said Warwick at the Television Critics Association panel in Los Angeles on Sunday.

"Idol" is still America's most watched show despite predictions by "X Factor" creator Simon Cowell the US version would topple it from its perch. "X Factor" audiences have been about half those of "Idol."

Aerosmith rocker Steven Tyler and pop star Jennifer Lopez were brought in to replace Cowell as a judge on "Idol" last year while Cowell went on to helm the U.S. version of "The X Factor," taking fellow judge Paula Abdul to the judging panel with him.

"Simon and Paula are dear friends of ours and they started this whole "Idol" tradition with us. I think "Idol" is still the best TV show of its kind anywhere, we're the original, we invented this game that everyone's now copying," said judge Randy Jackson.

Host Ryan Seacrest, whose contract with "Idol" is up for renewal amid reports in the media that his other contract with NBC Universal may see him replacing Matt Lauer on the "Today" show, emphasized intentions to stay with "Idol."

"I love this show, I've been a part of it for so many years, I can't imagine life without American Idol," said Seacrest, adding that he didn't see himself hosting any other talent show for now, but refused to comment further.

"He's an enormous part of the show, our expectation is that he is going to be on the show for as long as we can get him to be on it," said Mike Darnell, president of alternative entertainment at Fox.

For the judges, the benefits of being involved with "Idol" has paid off in their personal careers.

Rocker Steven Tyler said that while his fellow Aerosmith bandmates weren't as accepting of his new gig at first, the show spurned sales of Aerosmith records up by 260 percent. Tyler is also working on a new album with the band.

Fellow judge Jennifer Lopez also saw a boost in her music career last year after making a comeback with a new album, and was expecting to keep up the pace in the new season of "Idol."

As the show enters its 11th season, the producers said changes to the show will affect the middle portion of the contest, where those contestants will have to take a performance challenge involving a song from the 1950s, among other changes.

"American Idol" will return on Fox on January 18 with a two-night premiere.

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