Cowell No Big Loss As Idol Launches 10th Season
American Idol launched its tenth season on Fox Wednesday night with 26.1 million viewers, down from 29.8 million for the premiere of Season 9, 30.4 million for Season 8, and 33.4 million for Season 7. In other words, it dropped no more this year than it has in recent years, despite the departure of Simon Cowell. Critics agreed it was a far kinder, gentler Idol with Cowell gone. Indeed when newly added judge Jennifer Lopez rejected her first contestant, she exclaimed, "Oh, my God, I hate this. Why did I sign up for this? I want to go home." When another contestant's eyes filled with tears when she was turned down by Randy Jackson, Lopez and Steven Tyler, the other new judge, set aside the qualms they had expressed about her and voted to keep her in the competition. Commented New York Daily News music critic Jim Farber "Having lost their most distinctive voice (Simon's) they seemingly decided to stand out by offering a rebuke to his entire m.o." Nevertheless, for the most part critics banged out positive judgments to the judges, and those who did not reserved final verdicts. "Time will tell whether or not the new panel will find its groove, and whether the show will lose its appeal without the brutal honesty of the great shade-thrower himself, Simon Cowell," wrote Boston Globe TV critic Matthew Gilbert. The NFL asked Toyota to halt continued use of a TV commercial that discussed helmet-to-helmet hits after it aired on ESPN's Monday Night Football, Reuters reported on Wednesday. In the ad, Wake Forest University professors described the way Toyota technology simulating the way drivers are injured in auto accidents could prevent brain injuries in football. Frequent helmet-to-helmet hits are believed to be responsible for brain dysfunction in some older former football players, and players have invoked studies of such long-term injuries in arguing against the NFL's proposed lengthening of the football season. NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy acknowledged that the league had contacted Toyota."From time to time, we will address an ad that portrays our sport unfairly," McCarthy told Reuters. Toyota agreed to remove a scene from the commercial showing helmit-to-helmit hits -- something that is shown during virtually every NFL telecast (although the NFL has been fining some of the most aggressive helmet hitters since October).