(LOS ANGELES) -- American Idol season 10 gets underway Wednesday night, and America's most popular show has initiated sweeping changes for its milestone 10th season, with producers hoping viewers tune in to see what all the fuss is about.
Even the Wednesday night debut is a change -- American Idol has been shifted to Wednesday/Thursday from its traditional Tuesday/Wednesday berth. Wednesday night also marks America's first chance to get a complete look at perhaps the biggest change: the new judging panel -- Jennifer Lopez and Aerosmith's Steven Tyler are joining holdover Randy Jackson behind the big desk.
Another big change is that the minimum age requirement for contestants was lowered to 15, something host Ryan Seacrest says was a good move. He told ABC News Radio, "The sweep across the country brought out...quite a few talented, very, very confident 15 and 16-year-olds," adding, "A couple in my head right now have...a good shot at being a finalist."
Testing the contestants to see how they perform under pressure is also a new twist. Right after Hollywood Week, for example, about 60 of the the kids were taken to Las Vegas and told they had 24 hours to learn a Beatles song and perform it on the stage of the Cirque du Soleil's Beatles show LOVE.
After that post-Hollywood Las Vegas round, only 40 semi-finalists were selected to move on. From that, the field will be narrowed down to 20, and then America will vote in a "sudden death round" to select the finalists.
The Hollywood round begins Feb. 16th and the Vegas round starts on Feb. 23rd. The 20 semifinalists will be chosen Feb. 24th, and the 10 finalists, as well as the judges' wild-card picks, will be announced March 3rd.
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