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A mean Randy Jackson? A tearful Jennifer Lopez? A shy Thia Megia?

At yesterday's American Idol panel at PaleyFest 2011, producers and contestants dished on season 10 of the country's most popular show. Read on for an intimate look at the judging table and a lot more...

Steven Tyler, J. Lo and Randy Jackson

Producer Ken Warwick, on the new Dawg: "He keeps it real... Randy brings it back and smack, this is what we think and this is where it is. He's great this year."

Randy, on his new attitude: "Somebody great is going to go home every week because I think we got some really, really talented kids. We got to call it as we see it. You just have to be honest and give these kids really helpful critiques, be that good or bad."

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With Simon Cowell exiting American Idol after this year, Randy Jackson is set to become the face of the franchise.

So far, he's spoken out on the over exposure of the show's judges and previewed a "wild, crazy season" to come on the competition.

But what about the recent past? How would Randy compare the two men left standing to conclude season eight?

"[Adam Lambert is] a far bigger personality, probably, than [Kris Allen]. But I think they're both equally talented," Jackson told MTV. "Kris obviously won for a reason."

As for another finalist, Jackson had nothing but praise for Allison Iraheta: "She's got her record out too. I wish them all well and the best."

Randy Jackson Pic

Randy also said he was pleased to see that season nine isn't shock full of Adam and Kris clones. Leading into Hollywood week, the aspiring singers stand on their own.

"You would have thought there would have been a lot more theatrical Adam Lambert or Kris Allen types that would have showed up for the auditions, but that's not what happened at all this time.

"Usually, whoever wins or comes in one and two, the next season of auditions, you have a lot of those kinds of people. It's almost like it was a signal to all the people at home who were like them... I think we got a very interesting, unique cast that's really only unique to this season nine."

The action, judging and horrible/incredible auditions kick off tonight. Will you be watching?!?

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Paula Abdul is out. Ellen DeGeneres is in. Simon Cowell may soon be gone.

Leading into tomorrow night's ninth season premiere of American Idol, the focus has been on this show's judging panel and its related controversies. Randy Jackson would like to see that change.

“People get sidetracked with [all the changes to the panel]," Jackson told reporters on a recent conference call. "Listen. There are contestants.... this is a singing competition.... Let’s focus on what we’re judging and what the actual meat of the show really is. It’s about finding that next superstar talent.”

Because Hollywood week kicks off later than usual this year, Jackson couldn't tease fans with the names of prospective finalists. But he did hype the auditions so far, which have been judged by a slew of celebrities.

“This season, we’ve got some really good, bonafide, stand-in-your-shoes singers,” Jackson said, adding his main three criteria for success on the show: "Undeniable talent, something that makes you unique, and some star persona.”

Overall, our favorite dawg promises “an interesting, wild, crazy season.” He says that that one thing remains the same:

“This show is definitely a rocket ship to the top.”

Unless your name is Taylor Hicks, that is.

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When it comes to predicting the American Idol final pairing, Randy Jackson is going out on a limb shorter than Ryan Seacrest.

During an appearance at Amtrak’s National Train Day in Washington D.C. (seriously, it's a real thing!), the judge predicted next week's finale to come down to Danny Gokey and Adam Lambert.

“Adam Lambert is definitely the lead winner if we had to choose today. He’s got the vocal chops, he’s a good-looking guy like myself, and he’s got that star potential,” Jackson said. “I think it’s going to come down to him and Danny [Gokey] in the finale.”

Total Rock Star

Are you a Lambert Lover or a Goke Head?

As for rumors that fellow panelist Kara DioGuardi might not return to the judges’ table next season, Randy said:

“I think everybody will be back. I think you will see the returning cast.”

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Might former secretary of state Condoleezza Rice and current American Idol judge Randy Jackson have shared a night of passion at the Beverly Wilshire hotel?!?

According to a new reports in Us Weekly, the answer is, astonishingly, YES; though said passion might have been based around a common interest in music, not one another's naked bodies.

Allow us to explain:

When Rice, a classically trained pianist, was in Los Angeles for her March 24 appearance on The Tonight Show With Jay Leno, she asked to meet Jackson for a private conversation at the aforementioned, fancy hotel.

Sources say the music producer "was sort of mystified" at the request, but you don't say no to a one-time secretary of state that may or may not have authorized the extensive use of torture.

"She's a longtime admirer of Randy and enjoyed the opportunity to meet him in person and talk about their common passion for music," Rice's spokesman told the tabloid, while an insider said she found the judge "to be absolutely intriguing."

Does this mean more took place between Rice and Jackson than just a friendly chat? We don't know.

But the Beverly Wilshire is the hotel where Richard Gere and Julia Roberts' characters fell in love during Pretty Woman? Just sayin.

Randy Jackson Biography

The New Panel Randy Jackson is one of four judges on American Idol. He's known for referring to most contestant as his "dawg." This musical guru also... More »
Born
Birthplace
Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Full Name
Randall Darius Jackson
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