"American Idol" and its new judging panel going soft this year?
Yes, says executive producer Nigel Lythgoe. Brutal honesty was the right tone when the TV talent show and Britain's Simon "Mr. Nasty" Cowell brought a breath of fresh air to U.S. television 10 years ago.
But times have changed, economically and socially, and that's why newcomers Steven Tyler, Jennifer Lopez and old hand Randy Jackson sent a record 300 plus wannabe pop stars from nationwide auditions onto a second round in Hollywood this year.