October 22, 2016
        Hollywood Contenders: New Oscar Predictions for October                Nicole Kidman, Hugh Grant, Naomie Harris, Lily Collins get Honors at 20th Annual Hollywood Film Awards                "Manchester by the Sea" leads the Gotham Award nominations                Tom Ford, Marc Platt and Kenneth Lonergan to be Honored at 20th Annual Hollywood Film Awards                Tom Cruise is in his action hero comfort zone with "Jack Reacher: Never Go Back"                "Moonlight" could be A24's big Oscar horse this year                Ewan McGregor steps behind the camera with "American Pastoral"                Hollywood Contenders: A second crack at Golden Globe predictions for 2016                "The Accountant" seeks to help give Ben Affleck another blockbuster                85 countries will be competing for Best Foreign Language Feature nominations at the Oscars                Tom Hanks to receive Hollywood Actor Award for "Sully" @ Hollywood Film Awards                "Certain Women" showcases Laura Dern, Kristen Stewart, and Michelle Williams                Ben Affleck is perhaps Hollywood's biggest and most diverse superstar                "The Birth of a Nation" looks to survive controversy and contend for awards                "The Girl on the Train" hopes to transport Emily Blunt to the Oscar race        

Jennifer Lopez talks American Idol!

By Fred Topel

Hollywoodnews.com: Fox unveiled the new ‘American Idol’ at the Television Critics Association winter press tour today. That included new judges Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler. Both have extensive singing and performing backgrounds, like Paula Abdul before them. Lopez also comes from the glamorous world of movies and dressing up for red carpets. She’s sure to look fabulous on the show.

“You’re only going to see from here up,” Lopez joked about sitting behind the table. “You’re going to see everything. I change it up all the time in my own life. I’ve got to be me. That’s always worked with the public. They see me, they know I’m real, that works. I don’t want to overthink it too much. I’m a girl who likes to get dressed up, put on her jewelry and lipstick and go out. They’re always asking me about my clothes. The Bronx girl gets out once in a while.”

Auditions have been underway to narrow the latest season of American Idol down to 40 contestants. The next two days will narrow it down further to the group we’ll see on TV.

“We have a lot of great talent, boys and girls, men and women,” Lopez said. “It’s tough. I already feel so attached to them. I hate seeing any of them go. Why we get involved is we see so much potential, so much great talent and artistry there. You see yourself years ago and you can identify and just want to guide them in the right decision. It might be a boy, it might be a girl. It’s who can make it under the pressure of the show every week. Every time you go up there, you’ve got to make our hair stand up. Every time you get up there, we’ve got to have our jaws drop. That’s what it takes.”

And whether Lopez’s perfectly coifed hair is blown or not, she’ll share her advice with the singer. “I think we try to throw pearls of wisdom when we can, when it comes up in the critique to tell them a little bit about fame and pressure and what it’s going to be like. We’ll do that through the season, especially when it gets to the live shows. We already have very much. I think you’ll see us because we do have that rare experience of being on this side of what fame is and being under pressure all the time. We’re supposed to keep a certain distance to keep our objectivity but we’ll give as much as we can. That’s who we are.”

For the William Hungs out there, Lopez will have a unique reaction too. “I think we’re both very spontaneous how we critique each and every person that’s walked in there. There’s been thousands so you’d have to tune in to see and get the whole scope of how we judge. I know that’s the big question of the day but the truth is you’re going to have to watch. We’re very honest and in the moment with everything we say and do. We bring a different perspective than I think any of the other previous judges really have. We’re artists, we’ve been up there, we’ve auditioned, we’ve been through the ranks. What has it been, 40 years [for Aerosmith]? Crazy. I’ve been in the business a long time too so there’s nothing like having that type of discussion with another artist to help you grow. At the end of the day, we’re there to either help the kids move to the next level or break the news to them that they’re not going to the next level.”

Lopez is in the middle of a thriving music and film career herself. The phenomenon of American Idol was just too irresistible. “As far as why I did the show, I think this has been well documented. At first I wasn’t sure about it but then I thought wait, I love this show. All the experience I have in this business, everything I’ve learned, where else can I put it to good use but by helping other artists? We’re not here to break people down. We’re here to help the kids move through it. At the end of the day, America’s voting. We’re judging but we’re there to guide them through it and mentor them through it. That’s been the fun part to me. It’s been a much more collaborative table. We talk about it, we discuss things. We put forth to them what we think can help them as artists. I thought it’d be fun and it’s more fun than I thought it would be and I’m so glad I made the choice. I’m having a ball.”

The big break for Lopez was being a Fly Girl on TV’s In Living Color in the ‘90s. Were there an audition show back then, she thinks she still would have made it. “Starting out I was very gutsy and ballsy when I was in my early ‘20s and teens like these kids,” she said.

You’ll start seeing Lopez on TV every week, but she’ll still have a presence in theaters. “Obviously the singing and acting, the performing, that’s where I started. That’s what I do. Everything else has been an extension of that. I’m lucky enough to have a business mind to kind of have success in those areas, but I would do it for free: sing, make records, make music, perform, act. That’s what I love to do and that’s what I will always be doing.. I have a record coming out this year and I have a movie I’ll be doing later in the year.”

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About Fred Topel

Fred Topel has been an entertainment journalist in Los Angeles since 1999, for websites like Daily Radar, About.com, Crave Online and Sci Fi Wire. Follow his celebrity encounters on Twitter @FredTopel.

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