'American Idol 7' wraps 'Hollywood Round,' judges gush about talent
By Christopher Rocchio, 12/03/2007
American Idol's seventh-season "Hollywood Round" recently wrapped -- and if you listen to judges Simon Cowell, Paula Abdul and Randy Jackson, the crop of talent was the best they've ever seen.
"Season 7 is off with a bang dude. I'm telling you, the talent is unbelievable. It's crazy dude! I can't even believe it myself," Jackson toldEXtra correspondent Terri Seymour in a Friday report. "I think it's the best [talent] we've ever had. People say, 'Aw! You say that every season!' But I've got to literally tell you it is so good... We found talent I didn't ever think we'd found with this show and we found some things that really epitomizes what the show is really, really about."
Jackson said some of the talent discovered during the "Hollywood Round" -- where 160 hopefuls were narrowed to 24 semifinalists, 12 boys and 12 girls -- rivals that of original Idol Kelly Clarkson and Idol 4 champ Carrie Underwood.
"I can't imagine us not having an unbelievable Top 10, Top 12 this year," Jackson told Extra. "All of them are just amazing in their own right, and different."
Cowell agreed with Jackson and described the Idol 7 semifinalists as "very, very strong."
"Potentially it is [the best season so far]," Cowell told Seymour, his longtime girlfriend. "It's fresher. The talent is better. You know this year for me was all about identities. It wasn't just enough to say you're a good singer. It was you're different -- you've got your own identity -- you're unique. This will be the strongest [Top 12] we've ever had. I never, ever have said that before, but this year, genuinely, it's the strongest we've got."
Abdul said the "Hollywood Round" talent was so overwhelming that -- Gasp! -- even she had to be "harsh" on the hopefuls.
"We were saying, 'No.' to people that would normally otherwise be put through," she told Extra. "We have had so many stand-out superstars now. I am so excited about this season. It's equal guys to girls. It's anyone's game. Simon Cowell cannot predict the winner this season."
While Abdul claims not even Cowell can predict the seventh-season's eventual champ, she did describe the upcoming Idol installment as must-see TV.
"I've been telling people this is going to be a season that no one's gonna want to miss," she told Extra. "There are so many stars, I think that when you get down to [the Top 12], it's going to be 12 possible contenders for record deals. It's unbelievable. We're shocked."
Idol 7 will premiere over the course of two consecutive nights on Tuesday, January 15 and Wednesday, January 16, with both two-hour broadcasts beginning at 8PM ET/PT.
Following its two-night, four-hour debut, Idol 7 will slide into its regular one-hour Tuesdays at 8PM ET/PT time period beginning January 22 and its regular one-hour Wednesdays at 8PM ET/PT time slot on January 23. In addition, Fox announced Idol 7's first half-hour results show broadcast will air Wednesday, March 12 at 9PM ET/PT.