The gloves are off! During the panel for American Idol's new season at Fox's TCA presentation, Idol judges and executive producers had plenty to say when comparisons to The Voice and The X Factor were brought up.
What first began as expected statements about how they were the "original" singing competition and "the gold standard" soon developed into something more pointed. What really started the ball rolling was a reporter bringing up the fact that Idol alum Kelly Clarkson was headed to The Voice to act as a guest advisor.
"It's a compliment to Idol," said Mike Darnell, the president of alternative entertainment. "Other shows want to use our stars for their shows. We're not hiring a lot of people from The Voice to be on our show."
Oh, snap! Executive producer Ken Warwick added: "This is the show that produces the stars." And just to give his statement an extra oomph, he called British X Factor winner Leona Lewis a "one-and-a-half-hit wonder."
Judge Randy Jackson also noted that last season's winner of The Voice had formerly had a contract at Capitol Records, saying: "It's like second-chance theater over there."
When a reporter countered that Scotty McCreery wasn't exactly "coming out of the gate" career-wise, Jennifer Lopez was quick to defend this year's winner. "These kids are just starting out. Give them a chance," she pleaded. "Scotty is platinum! [A long career] takes time."
Finally, executive producer Cecile Frot-Coutaz pointed out that Idol was not like The Voice when it came to auditions. "Their auditions are not an open call like us. They cast their show," she stated.
Also addressed today were the rumors that Ryan Seacrest would be leaving Idol to host The Today Show. His contract with the show ends after this season, but the host (and our E! pal) would not confirm anything beyond his current Idol commitments. "I love this television show and I've been a part of it for many years. I can't imagine my life without American Idol," he said. "I do have a deal with NBC Universal. I can't comment on [a Today Show gig] yet. At this point, I only see myself as hosting American Idol and I'm focusing on that this season."
Darnell adds: "Our expectation is he's going to be on this show for as long as we can have him. And I hope that's forever."
So, what do X Factor and The Voice fans make of the statements dropped by the Idol gang? Can you imagine Idol without Ryan Seacrest?