When he came on to the "American Idol" scene as a mentor back in Season 10, veteran record producer and Interscope chairman Jimmy Iovine was the new kid in town -- at least when it came to his role on the long-running reality show. Two seasons later, he was a respected -- if not the most respected -- member of the "Idol" team. But does the upcoming panel switcheroo mean it could soon be the end of Jimmy Iovine's "Idol" days?
The music industry vet had a few growing pains during his first season of the show. Some of the overly cocky contestants even dared to defy him, with James Durbin notoriously ignoring Iovine's advice to stay away from Sammy Hagar's bland movie song, "Heavy Metal" ("I know what's best for myself as an artist," Durbin told the famed record producer).
But by Season 11, Iovine's word was gold.
Spot-on predictionsHe easily predicted the "Idol" final two during the Top 25 show, citing Phillip Phillips's originality and saying, "I'd sign this guy on the spot!" On the girls' side, he said Jessica Sanchez "is the one to beat."
But he isn't above some colorful commentary -- and he definitely knows how to tell it like it is amid a panel of judges that sometimes tiptoed around the contestants' feelings.
Last season, Iovine slammed Top 4 finalist Hollie Cavanagh's performance of "I Can't Make You Love Me," saying she lacked the personal and professional experience to take on the song. "When the chorus came in, she hit the opera button," he said.
He dubbed some of Season 11's early entrants as "way too kitschy, way too cabaret" and "not ready for prime time." Iovine said everything we were thinking -- and everything we had hoped the judges would say.
Move over, mentor?With stiff competition from NBC's "The Voice" and Fox's "The X Factor," "Idol" execs are presumably looking for fresh faces for their own show. The latest rumor is that longtime judge Randy Jackson will be moving to a mentoring role. That could mean that Jimmy's "Idol" days are numbered.
Not that the show couldn't have two mentors -- or even more. In fact, there were many weeks that Iovine sat alongside some of his big name music biz buddies to give the contestants mentoring advice. He even paired up with his former girlfriend Stevie Nicks last season. But with an already-bloated cast (among the Season 12 rumors is the possibility that a fourth judge will be added to the panel), it seems unlikely that Jackson and Iovine would share mentoring duties.
With all of the mistakes that the "American Idol" powers that be have made over the years (Ellen, anyone?), one thing they did right was add Iovine to the lineup. If producers do a complete overhaul for Season 12, it could mark the end of the show's biggest voice of all.
"American Idol" Season 12 will premiere on January 18 on FOX.
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