Whee! Last night was the premiere event of this year's William S. Paley Television Festival at the Museum of Television & Radio. I was there on the red carpet, and I chased down the big cheeses from Fox's talent reality megahit, American Idol. You can see their remarks about season six in the Vine exclusive bonus clip at the right. Then read on for dish from the panel itself, as Idol's fearless leaders previewed the season to come and dished on the highs and lows of seasons past.

Ladies First?  The judges declined to do much early handicapping, but judge Randy Jackson speculated that "it'll be either a boy or girl." The Terrible Three (Randy, Simon Cowell and Paula Abdul) seem to agree that the girls are the frontrunners at the moment, but that there are three or four boys who could "hit their stride" midseason and break out. They also said that some past contestants—notably, eventual winners Carrie Underwood, Ruben Studdard and Fantasia Barrino—were standouts from the start.

Be Fruitful and Multiply, Because Idol Needs Human Flesh!  Producer Ken Warwick says, "This show is on in about 40 countries around the world. And the fascinating thing about this show is that there are a number of countries that don't have a population of anything like America— where, after three years, the pool has really dried up, and the series has literally dipped in the ratings, because the talent just isn't there."

Cowell Growls:  Simon Cowell ain't crowning no prom queens! He says, "At the end of the day, you've got to find a bona fide recording artist, because without that success, the competition doesn't mean anything. That's where we have to be careful that this doesn't turn into a popularity contest, because if it's a popularity contest, it's like winning Big Brother, and nothing's gonna happen. That's what happened with Chris [Daughtry] and Taylor [Hicks, from season five]. Chris is the one who sold the albums. Taylor hasn't."

They Can't Go Home Again?  When someone asked if the judges thought some of the contestants and winners had gotten big heads and forgotten where they came from, Simon sighed and said, "Some people will deliberately turn against the show that made them successful...There was somebody this week who was asked about what it was like to go on Idol, and she said, 'It was a stepping stone.' That was Jennifer Hudson...It wasn't a stepping stone. It was her big opportunity to become noticed. And she got noticed, and she got Dreamgirls. So, to answer your question, yes." 

Nowhere Men:  Neither Paul McCartney nor George Martin ("the fifth Beatle") are available this year, so despite Simon's quip that "Ringo's available," Beatles Week will be postponed indefinitely. Look for British Invasion Week instead.

His Royal Highness, Prince:  Per Simon, Prince wouldn't perform a duet with an Idol for last year's finale, and Simon disapproves. What do you guys think? Would you rather have bigger stars who only want the Idol stage, or smaller stars who are real Idol fans?

They Love It, Too!  "Watercooler moments" cherished by the judges and crew include shocks like Tamyra Gray being voted off in season one, the Claymate who got to meet his Idol in last season's finale, the kid who loved David Hasselhoff and Kelly Clarkson's first performance of "Respect."

I'll be back on Monday with a report from the Paley Fest's The Office panel, a new spoiler chat and much, much more on all your favorite shows. See you then!

—Additional reporting by Jennifer Godwin

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