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‘American Idol’: Harry Connick Jr. Laments Lack of ‘Indigenous’ Flair in Auditions

American Idol” producers are banking on fewer hours and stronger contestants to boost the franchise’s 14th edition after suffering a precipitous ratings drop last year.

“We’re pleased to be down to one show a week,” Trish Kinane, executive producer and an exec at FremantleMedia North America, said Saturday at the Television Critics Assn. press tour in Pasadena. “We have all the drama of an elimination and all the performances. I think it’s going to be jam-packed. There’s a lot to do in that one show.”

The show had aired twice a week — often with two-hour episodes — since it exploded as a hit for Fox a decade ago. After last season’s ratings tumble, producers made a number of changes, including enlisting music mogul Scott Borchetta as a mentor to work with the 24 finalists from the beginning.

The panel featured “Idol” judges Keith Urban, Jennifer Lopez and Harry Connick Jr. as well as host Ryan Seacrest. But Borchetta drew most of the questions as reporters pressed him on how his Big Machine label group exploded with Taylor Swift and other stars in under 10 years’ time. The “Idol” winner will be groomed for stardom by Borchetta and his team.

Borchetta cited his background in radio promotion as key to his success. “I had a huge honeymoon period,” he said.

Urban noted that Borchetta’s involvement is vital because the landscape for “Idol” winners and the music biz in general has changed so much since the show bowed in the U.S. in 2002.

“This is not the same industry that Carrie Underwood won and went into,” he said. “Even the definition of a superstar today is different.”

Connick observed that during the audition process he noticed the influence of technology and the global connectedness that music buffs can achieve through social media and other online platforms. He sees a downside to the focus of youth on creating music with the aid of technology when he was watching the open-call auditions held in New Orleans.

“People were coming in from New Orleans and surrounding areas, but there was nothing indigenous about the music,” Connick said, noting that nowadays people can be influenced “by anyone, anything at anytime.”

“We went to Bourbon Street in my world. It was sad that nobody came in really representing New Orleans,” he said. “There’s blessings to accessibility, but one of the great drawbacks is that everything has become melted down. I was hoping to really see people who looked like they were from New Orleans, and they could have been from anywhere.”

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