American Idol will be back in just a couple of weeks with a new judge and a couple of tweaks to the formatting. (The new season premieres Tuesday and Wednesday, Jan. 13 and 14 at 8/7c)
As I've already reported, songwriter Kara DioGuardi will be the fourth judge on the panel. (Simon Cowell will break tie votes to decide if a singer goes to Hollywood.)
The show will also add a second week of the Hollywood round. The Idol Gives Back charity fundraiser is taking the year off but is expected to return for a third time in Season 9. Season 8 will open with three weeks of auditions rather than four, creating room for the second Hollywood week.
"They're not mega-changes. They are just little things to keep the whole format fresh and interesting," said executive producer Ken Warwick about all the tweaks. Read more about the changes here.
In other Idol news, Warwick addressed allegations made by judge Paula Abdul that producers from the show allowed contestant Paula Goodspeed to tryout for the show even though Abdul complained that the woman stalked her. (Goodspeed died of an apparent suicide last month near Abdul's home.)
Warwick said he was not aware of reports that Goodspeed had stalked Abdul before her 2006 audition, according to a USA Today article.
"I might have known she was a fan. … Obviously, if we honestly thought there was any real problem there, we would never have" let her perform before the judges.)