Winter TV Preview

''American Idol'': Previewing Season 7

Expect to see less airtime for guest-star mentors, singers playing their own instruments in Hollywood, big talent from San Diego -- and a hairy prediction from Randy

Paula Abdul, Simon Cowell, ... | AMERICAN IDOL ''San Diego was da bomb,'' says Idol judge Randy Jackson (seen with Paula Abdul and Simon Cowell). ''That's D.A. Space. B.O.M.B.''
AMERICAN IDOL ''San Diego was da bomb,'' says Idol judge Randy Jackson (seen with Paula Abdul and Simon Cowell). ''That's D.A. Space. B.O.M.B.''

AMERICAN IDOL
Returns Jan. 15
8:00-10:00 PM (FOX)

American Idol executive producer Nigel Lythgoe wants us all to know that he is completely aware something went horribly wrong last season. ''Last year we had nobody outstanding,'' he admits of the leggy, pony-hawked, and beat-boxing top 12. ''I promise it's a different year altogether.'' He also swears the show won't be overtaken by guest stars like Jennifer Lopez and Gwen Stefani. ''We were so enamored with our mentors last season that we took too long saying who they were and that they've sold millions of albums. We've got four or five splendid people coming, but we're going to use less of them.''

Now that the apologies are out of the way, what else is new about season 7? For starters, contestants that reach Hollywood will now be allowed to play instruments to accompany their crooning. ''No one did anything stupid,'' Lythgoe says. ''The worst was some poor guy playing drums and doing a very poor impression of Karen Carpenter.''

Far from poor was some of the talent Lythgoe and judge Randy Jackson unearthed during auditions in San Diego. ''San Diego was da bomb,'' Jackson says, adding, ''That's D.A. Space. B.O.M.B.'' (Thanks, Randy.) As for the grand prize, Lythgoe is predicting a guy will win season 7, while Jackson sees something else in his crystal ball. ''I think somebody with hair will win,'' he says. ''You can rule out all the bald people right now.'' Somewhere, Phil Stacey just shed a single tear.

Episodes set to air: Zillions

Sign up for EW.com's American Idol Alerts!

Don't miss a story! We'll send you an alert when new American Idol content is added to the site.
Originally posted Jan 08, 2008