Jennifer Lopez, Randy Jackson & Steven Tyler Talk ‘American Idol’ Return

Singing reality competitions may be all the rage, but the folks at “American Idol” aren’t worried about competing with anyone.

“This show’s a phenomenon. ‘American Idol’ is the gold standard of this stuff,” FOX President of Alternative Programming Mike Darnell said on the “American Idol” panel during the Television Critics Association Winter Session in Pasadena on Sunday.

When a reporter brought up Simon Cowell’s newcomer to the block –“The X Factor” – which also features former “Idol” judge Paula Abdul, current “Idol” judge Randy Jackson said his show is standing strong.

“Simon and Paula are dear friends of ours… I think that ‘Idol’ is still the best TV of its kind anywhere, and we invented this whole game and everyone’s kind of copying it,” Randy said, referring to shows like “The X Factor” and “The Voice,” which were brought up numerous times during the TCA panel. “We wish him well.”

Season 11 of “American Idol” brings the return of the entire “Idol” judging panel – Randy, Steven Tyler and Jennifer Lopez, and the lone lady of the bunch said fans can expect more of the same from the group, including her emotions, which were so prevalent last season in the audition rounds.

“It hasn’t changed, we’re still the same people. I’m still an emotional person… We’re a little bit more comfortable, we’re still having fun,” she said. “We have amazing talent so that always makes it more exciting.”

“There are more dresses this season,” Ryan Seacrest chimed in, referring to his co-star’s fashions.

Steven revealed that behind the scenes, his life has changed since appearing on “Idol,” despite his superstar rock ‘n’ roll status.

“[Last season] it wasn’t really accepted up front [with the rock community], mostly from my own bandmates because they didn’t know what was going on with the Aerosmith thing at the end. But it’s brought younger kids to our music anyway,” he said, noting Aerosmith sales last year were up 260 percent.

Additionally, the rocker said it’s been hard for him to now step out in public.

“It’s like, ‘Really?… I can’t go anywhere anymore,” he said.

Much talk has been made about the future of host Ryan, who will wrap up his contract with “Idol” at the end of the season, but he hinted he wants to stay with the show should contract negotiations work out.

“I love this television show and I’ve been part of it for so many years, I can’t imagine not being a part of ‘American Idol,’” Ryan said.

“We love Ryan,” Mike chimed in. “I can’t imagine the show without him.”

The panel also stood behind “Idol’s” Season 10 winner Scotty McCreery, referencing his success as being greater than winners of other talent shows like “The Voice’s” Javier Colon.

“I think the only three artists that are bigger [than Scotty McCreery] are Adele, Rihanna and Gaga,” Randy said.

Jennifer will be balancing a multitude of jobs as she resumes her “Idol” duties this season, including producer work on “Que Viva!,” actress and fashion designer, and she said being a working mom is turning out all right.

“They are so little and cute. It’s a juggling act, just like any, you know, single mom, it’s just balancing everything out and making sure they’re OK,” she said of her nearly 4-year-old twins Max and Emme. “They come first… They feel loved happy and… they are, the most important thing in my life.”

“American Idol” Season 11 premieres January 18 at 8/7c on FOX.

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