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'American Idol' judges good to go

Jonathan Storm
The Philadelphia Inquirer (MCT)

PASADENA, Calif. — Here come the judges.

Steven Tyler and Jennifer Lopez join veteran Randy Jackson on "American Idol," which premieres its 10th season next Wednesday. They met Tuesday with television critics at their annual winter gathering.

I took the role of a loser contestant who hadn't brought it, and I asked them what they would say to me?

"Isn't there an age limit?" J-Lo asked. Zing!

"You didn't bring it," said Tyler. "Maybe you got too much attitude. It's the whole deal, not just the voice."

"It's more of a critique," Lopez said. "Not pack your suitcase, but what you have to do, not to have to pack the suitcase."

Mine was never unpacked, I guess.

It sounds like the new "Idol" incarnation might be fun. Tyler said he saw a J-Lo video last spring, noted a little vulnerability packed into the blasting talent and thought, "I want to sit next to that." Then he babbled a bit and finally said, "I get to sit between her."

Silence on stage, then a little banter. "That's what the show's all about," Tyler said. "I can't tell you how many times I've said something weird, and she bails me out and Randy says, 'Yo.'"

But the old dog may have a few new tricks, now that he won't be commenting first. "My role has definitely changed," Jackson says. "You'll see a more assertive dog, more hair on the dog (if not on his head), fewer yo's, more no's."

"There's been a lot of talk of who's gonna be the tough one, or the mean one or whatever. You'll still hear that from all of us. ... If it's terrible, it's terrible, so what are you gonna say? You know what I'm saying?"

———

Still singing strongly as his 70th birthday approaches on Jan. 21, Placido Domingo has a very complicated relationship with his voice.

The tenor, who will be the subject of a "Great Performances" episode this year, "Placido Domingo: My Favorite Performances," spoke to the TV critics via satellite from Madrid's Teatro Real.

"I have been lucky that my voice has been very generous to me. I tell you, you have to take care of the voice. I mean, I always say that the voice is like a relation with a very, very, very jealous woman, you know. She demands everything. She wants everything, and you just have to give her everything. And if you treat her well, she reacts, and then she's happy, and makes you happy, and makes me make happy the people."

After 50 years of performing everywhere in the world, Domingo still has an adorable Spanish accent even if he is the director of the Los Angeles Opera.

Domingo selected the Vienna State Opera, the Metropolitan Opera in New York, La Scala in Milan, and London's Covent Garden as the best opera houses in the world. "I think those are like the grand slam if we were talking of the tennis," he said.

Domingo comes from a musical family, and his first musical memory, of his father singing zarzuela, a Spanish form of operetta, is a formidable one:

"Here in Madrid, I remember my father dressed with tails, and there is a very famous zarzuela that is called 'La Gran Via' ... and this gentleman is a very elegant gentleman, and that he drives crazy the ladies, and he's with the frock. And I see my father singing that."

Don't look for any resurrection of the beloved Three Tenors. There will never be a substitute for Luciano Pavarotti, who died three years ago. "I can sing in a group of four or five people, but three tenors, I promised myself, since we lost Luciano," said Domingo, "and I promised to Jose (Carreras, the third tenor), and he did the same to me — we were never going to be three tenors singing together."

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