Fox announced several changes to the format of American Idol Monday as the show's cast and producers appeared on a panel at the TCA winter press tour.
The changes include a new “Hollywood or Home” round scheduled for Feb. 5 and a condensed “rush week” that will narrow the field to 13 finalists over the course of three consecutive nights, Feb. 18-20.
Idol's two-night premiere is Jan. 15 and 16.
Here are some of the highlights from the panel:
On rivalry with NBC's The Voice:
Trish Kinane (EP): "I don’t think The Voice is more popular than our show. If you look at the ratings, American Idol still beat it. But having said that, Idol is the gold standard. It is the original format."
On chemistry between on-air talent:
Ryan Seacrest (host): "Going back to Simon [Cowell], he and I always got along. We treated it as sport when we were winding each other up.”
On Jennifer Lopez coming back to judge for the third time after taking a season off:
Lopez: "I love coming to work every day, which is why I’m back. I loved the show as a fan, and I loved being involved in the production of the show. … I never planned to do the show for more than a year. I loved it so much I did it for two years.
On last season’s women being more talented than the men:
Kinane: It’s more balanced this year.
Lopez: Yes, definitely.
Kinane: But when you do have, like last year, the women were just stronger. Some people have speculated that the producers just made it that way. That’s not what it was. That’s just what came through the door.