Jennifer Lopez, Steven Tyler will join returning Randy Jackson at 'Idol' judges table

Steven Tyler, left, and Jennifer Lopez will join Randy Jackson at the American Idol judges table.

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Steven Tyler, left, and Jennifer Lopez will join Randy Jackson at the American Idol judges table.

First, let's hold off on the talk of jumping sharks and crashing ratings.

Now that we know pop diva Jennifer Lopez and Aerosmith singer Steven Tyler will join a returning Randy Jackson at the judges table on American Idol, it is easy to get distracted by visions of disaster. The star of Monster-in-Law and Gigli advising someone else on how to have a successful showbiz career? The jokes write themselves.

But their installation — revealed Wednesday after months of rumors confirmed and denied — is only part of a widespread Idol makeover following the departure of star Simon Cowell that includes younger contestants, online auditions, a new in-house mentor in Interscope Records chairman Jimmy Iovine and the return of departed producer Nigel Lythgoe.

"I just want to find the next Michael Jackson," Lopez said during an announcement of the three judges, held at the Forum in Los Angeles.

Tyler, who at age 62 will be the oldest Idol judge, said "I just want to bring some rock to this roller coaster." In a later press conference he would acknowledge that some of his band mates might be jealous.

There is no doubt the show's equation has changed; at right is a look at the new winners and losers.

Winners

J.Lo: Say what you will about her singing abilities, this gig is Lopez's instant ticket to showbiz relevance after a string of lackluster albums and movies. It doesn't hurt that Fox tossed in a first-look deal with its network and movie studio for her production company.

Future Biebers: The show lowered its age limit to 15 and will take online auditions through MySpace until Oct. 6. It couldn't scream louder for a new version of YouTube sensation Justin Bieber if it tried to clone him from a lock of those beautiful, oversize bangs.

Simon Cowell: It's looking more like he jumped off the Idol train at just the right time. If it crashes next year, he can claim it failed because he was gone. And his new Idol ripoff The X Factor debuts in fall 2011, poised to take over where Idol fails.

Losers

Idol producers: The public flailing for new judges, combined with a lackluster past season, has left the industry carping loudly. Few beyond the biggest fans think adding Lopez and Tyler is a sure thing.

Idol judges: Two have never done this job before, joining the show after its biggest star has left and its newest star has quit. Their backup: the guy long considered the most disposable judge, leaving some fans openly wishing producers had just eliminated the job.

Contestants: What the show really needs is more compelling talent. But thanks to all the hiring high jinks with Lopez and Tyler, Idol's focus next season will be where it shouldn't; on the judges. Lowering the age limit also ensures auditioners will be less sophisticated; Susan Boyle, the Britain's Got Talent megastar, would have been reduced to a Pants on the Ground-style joke on Idol.

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Jennifer Lopez, Steven Tyler will join returning Randy Jackson at 'Idol' judges table 09/22/10 [Last modified: Thursday, September 23, 2010 12:44am]

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