Jimmy Iovine talks American Idol Season 11 Finale TONIGHT!

Jimmy Iovine, mentor on American Idol

American Idol Season 11 is coming to a close tonight, and it will either end up being pop diva Jessica Sanchez or indie original Phillip Phillips. All season long, Jimmy Iovine has mentored the Idol hopefuls, and he had a lot to say about the finale which airs tonight on FOX!

Jack Kennedy, L.A. Times:
JK: Hi Jimmy, how are you?
JI: Good, thank you.
JK: Good. Thanks so much for doing this, really appreciate it.
JI: Of course, no problem.
JK: This is your second year on the show. You do such a great job with these contestants on a weekly basis. I’m curious, though. The last few contestants – outside of, you know, Scotty [McCreery] – haven’t done the greatest in recent times post-Idol. I’m wondering, what tips do you maybe have for Jessica or Phillip moving forward, whether or not one of them wins the show or not?
JI: Well, you’re dealing with a very unusual situation. Usually, when someone makes their first album, they’re coming from, you know, really trying to figure everything out, and no one knows who they are. In the days of becoming very popular on your own on the internet, or on something like American Idol, the first album… you’re entering a different place than most artists did in the past, so the best thing you can try to do, is get… headspace, to collaborate and make that first album feel like your first album, where you’re taking the input you need and working on it, that sort of stuff. There have been quite a few times I’ve seen in the past where it’s hard to go on TV in front of 20 million people, or 25 million, whatever it is, you know, and then go make your first album. That’s a tough trick.

Michael Arbiter, Hollywood.com:
MA: Hi, thank you very much for talking to us. … celebrated your honesty during the elimination episodes and slammed the judges for constantly positive critiques. Would you ever consider being a judge?
JI: No one has asked me, and you know, not right now. I’m kind of just…I like working with musicians, and I like the creative aspect of what I do on the show. I really enjoy that. It’s a lot of fun for me, you know. That would change that, so probably not, you know?
MA: Okay. Do you think the judges showed too much favoritism towards Joshua this year?
JI: Oh, no. I think what they do is really cool. They just kind of…they were kind of like a lot of the audience. They were fans of a lot of the kids on the show, and Joshua does great work, really. He’s got an impressive, impressive voice, and I can see why you’re sitting there getting excited about him. But I thought they always loved Jessica, they like Phillip, and they liked Hayley and they liked Alicia. I feel they spread the love around, you know?

Ann Bedard, Entertainment World:
AB: The mentoring sessions have been really interesting to watch, and they seem to have been very helpful for the contestants, sometimes resulting in that they change the song they’ve chosen or the approach. Can you tell me when in the week do they happen, and how long is each session?
JI: Well, the sessions are approximately, probably about a half hour each, maybe a little bit more, and they happen on a Friday. I give a lot of thought before I go in, and, you know, I’ve been doing this a long time, so what I’m doing basically is what I do in my office. I talk to musicians, or when I was a record producer what I would do, and yeah, it’s a contest, it’s a show, so it’s all kind of squished into a shorter time. But what I was most shocked about this year is that every one of these kids were cooperative and wanted to learn and wanted to be better, especially the final four or five. These kids really cared and really were interested in, “Okay, is this how it’s done?” I really liked the kids this year a lot, quite a bit, so it made me able to do more, and I would bring my friends in that also have a lot of experience. If we need more time, the kid leaves and comes back, or everybody’s treated equally, and that’s kind of how it works.

Mike Hughes, TV America:
MH: You have these two goals for Jessica. One is for her to sound age-appropriate, but the other is for her to show that she has this big voice that she can use. It seems like that’s hard to pull off, because most days, songs for 16-year-olds are little songs, and she needs to show off the big voice. How do you make that work? What is she going to have to do on Tuesday to win?
JI: Well, believe me, we’ve worked on this. We took both Phillip and Jessica, Jessica has to, on Wednesday, find that balance between what her capabilities are and reach inside and have the right song to click the emotion. She has to get people to vote for her, people that haven’t voted for her in the past. I think she’s up there, but I think she has to have 10-10-10. She just has to do what she’s capable of doing, believe in the songs she’s chosen and the song that Simon Fuller has chosen for her. We worked on an original song that I really like, and I think she’s going to have to go there and do what…she’s a pro. She’s 16 years old, but when this girl is 18, when she grows the next few years, as they would say, “She’s going to be a problem,” meaning that she’s going to do really, really well. She’s got all the capabilities and all the pieces to just do great. I’m really excited. I get excited when I work with her.

Jean O’Sullivan, New York Daily News:
GS: Hi, Jimmy. I know you were born in Brooklyn. What area were you born in and grew up in as a kid, and how did you get into music?
JI: I was born on 2nd Place and Henry Street, down by the Battery Tunnel. When I was there it was called Red Hook Brooklyn, and now it’s called Cabo Hill. I just liked music, and at that time, wanted to get out of Brooklyn. It was either that or sports, and if you met me or see me on TV, you know sports wasn’t an option (laughs). So I got into music. I met a girl named Ellie Greenwich, she was a great songwriter, and she got me a job in a recording studio kind of cleaning up and stuff. I was able to watch, and from there I went to another studio. I had three studio jobs, sort of like custodial, sort of help out set things up, and then eventually this guy Roy Sacolo liked me and he put me in a studio, and I kind of got started at about 19.

Evan Reel, OK! Magazine:
ER: Hi, Jimmy, how are you?
JI: I’m cool.
ER: I’m sure you got a chance to meet Jennifer Lopez while you were working on Idol. What do you think about the possibility of her not returning, and do you think Idol might lose some of its (____) if it loses Jennifer?
JI: You know something, she’s incredible. I hope she does it again. I know nothing about this, fortunately, and on this particular show, it’s a decision that’s way below my paygrade, I just mentor the kids and do my thing. She’s wonderful and funny and beautiful and talented, so I hope they keep her.

Han Win, TVGuide.com:
HW: Hi, Jimmy. There’s been much said in the past two years about, “Oh, only a boy can win.” Can you say why you think this year it might be different, why Jessica really has a good chance of winning?
JI: Well, I’d like to go back and re-phrase what I said, meaning I’m low – what I said before on that call with OK! Magazine – is that I am low on the totem pole. I don’t get to make these decisions about the judges, that’s what I meant. I think I got it backwards in what I said. I’m low on that totem pole. I don’t make any of those decisions or calls on who are the judges and who isn’t. As a matter of fact, they don’t consult me on that whatsoever. Anyway, what was the question again?
HW: I was asking why in the past three seasons, many people have been saying only a boy can win, however, we now have a boy and girl in the finals, and they’re both very strong. Can you say why you think Jessica actually has a really good chance this year to win?
JI: Jessica is born with one of those gifts that you see very, very rarely. The tone of her voice, the range, her poise, she has every, every chance to win this thing. She can strike a chord in you with the right song, that no matter what you’re thinking before you hear that, you will vote for her. She can change your mind on a dime, because those voices don’t come around every day. That’s why there are so few people that sing like that in the industry today. I wish there were more, but there aren’t. There just aren’t voices like that.

Tiffany Wan, Wet Paint Entertainment:
TW: Thank you again for speaking with us this morning. My question for you is, there have been a lot of shocking eliminations over the course of Idol this year. Was there anyone in particular you were really shocked to see go home early?
JI: I had it pretty early on that Joshua, Jessica and Phillip had what it takes to be in the final three. I did not know who was going to proceed or not after Joshua got cut, but those three, I always knew would be, I felt personally they would be in the final three. I’m not surprised at the final two, but if it was Jessica and someone else, I wouldn’t have been surprised at that either.

Alex Gonzalez, La Prensa de Houston:
AG: Hi, Jimmy, how are you?
JI: Pretty good!
AG: This season has been full of surprises, from bringing back Jermaine Jones to saving Jessica Sanchez, Colton Dixon being eliminated and now Joshua Ledet. What do you make of this season, and what do you think it means for the future of American Idol?
JI: Well, I’m really pleased about, you know, go down to the last two weeks. Phillip is a very unusual artist to get this far on American Idol, and I’m really impressed with that. See, Phillip’s career is going to be based on…he’s a writer, singer/songwriter, and a lot of that is based on…you know, so you don’t have the world to pick material from. I mean, he may take some help in collaborations with different things that he does, but for that secret to still be in the bag and to have him this far as singer/songwriter, a big part of it is Phil’s songs. Dave Matthews, Paul Simon, Bruce Springsteen wrote all their songs. That part, the audience doesn’t know yet, but I believe in him a lot, and I think he’s got crazy charisma. He’s got incredible charisma, incredible sound, so I’m really happy about that. I think that bodes well for American Idol, that a kid like that can get this far. I just think that there is something about this group. First of all, let me say one thing. The judges…what they do is so difficult, to go on the road and listen to people sing a capella, thousands of them…I couldn’t do that. To differentiate and define one kid and not the other? What they do is really extraordinary, and I think that’s what you’re seeing on American Idol that was missing in some of the years right before that. The A&R process that these judges professionally do is really extraordinary. That’s the thing I’m most impressed at.

Mike Hughes, TV America:
MH: Just to go on with that about Phillip Phillips, if he did win, the last three guys were kind of similar in that they were kind of up-close and personal singers, just didn’t do really well selling records at all —
JI: Scotty did!
MH: Yeah, not counting the country guy, because that’s a good thing for country, but it doesn’t seem to work as well in pop. So what do you think? What would Phillip have to do to actually be successful?
JI: This is a very good question actually. Again, singer/songwriters, it’s a very complicated thing. He has the advantage now of being exposed, people hearing him in an incredible circumstance, and a lot of people know who he is, that’s an extraordinary advantage. But now he has to go make a record that lives up to the popularity and the hype and yet go make his first record as an artist. It’s not always the easiest thing. His record’s got to…he’s got to put a lot of work into it. We’re going to help him a lot, but he has a certain thing a lot of those other people you’re talking about didn’t have. This guy, I don’t know how he was missed in the industry, because he really has such charisma and such a vibe and such a great character that he was looked over probably, and it’s great that he got on this show. It’s terrific for the show that he made it through. I’m really pleased for everyone.

Michael Noble, Click Clack TV:
MN: Greetings, Jimmy. Thanks for making yourself available today. Going back to last season and right up to this one, I have to mention that there are a lot of viewers who appreciate some of your candor and some of your humor as well when critiquing the contestants. Last year was a feeling out period with the introduction of Steven Tyler and Jennifer Lopez and yourself and I’m curious about your thoughts with those behind the judges’ table as opposed to what you do. Steven and Jennifer, they’re kind of on the spot because of the fact that they have rehearsals, so I don’t know if you do or not. But I’m just curious —
JI: Here’s the thing about that. I’m, what do you call it, a mentor, a coach, an executive producer, a producer, whatever you’re doing, I’m in the creative process. I’m on their side. And then at the end of the game, we get to talk about what happened. If you’re in a playoff game and the coach comes back and says, “Well, this guy just blew it, this one did great,” it’s just about what it is. So my responsibility is to just say what it is and help the artist, the singers and the audience give them my take on actually what’s happening and what did happen, why that happened. Why things happen and why they don’t, or why I felt that it didn’t work or why I agreed or disagreed with the judges. It’s part of the creative process. I’m on the front of it and the back of it. And that’s my responsibility, to train the team and then let them know what happened, or how I see it anyway.

Moderator: We will now turn it over for any closing remarks.

JI: Thank you, it really was cool. Thank you.

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