"American Idol" is changing its tune.
By now, the news is far and wide about the most obvious new turn. Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler (from Aerosmith) will join the hit competition series as judges when it returns for Season 10 (8 p.m. EST Wednesday, Fox). Original judge Randy Jackson remains.
Record executive Jimmy Lovine will work as a mentor to the contestants instead of the usual celebrity guests who have popped up in past seasons to do the role.
The new faces, ushering a new tone to the proceedings, will be joined by tweaks in the format. It's certainly a risk to experiment with a tried-and-true formula this far into the run. However, the departures of Paula Abdul and Simon Cowell have created the right opportunity to make such changes, producer say.
In the format alterations, contestants in the "Hollywood rounds" will go to Las Vegas to perform in a challenge -- to sing in a Beatles tribute show. Also during the Hollywood rounds, dozens of contestants are whittled to 40, and then 20.The audience starts voting in the semifinals.
Unlike previous years, contestants will have a chance to sing original compositions during one part of the season.
A "wild card" element will factor in. As in recent seasons, judges will be able to bring back a wild-card finalist who they think deserves a second chance.
Jackson promises to cut back on saying "yo" so much. Tyler's coarse language will be bleeped and Lopez will get teary-eyed a lot.
"We're both very spontaneous how we critique each person that's walked in there," Lopez says of her and Tyler's judging styles. "I know that's the big question of the day .... We're very honest and in the moment with everything that we say and we do."
No judge wants to 'fess up to assuming Cowell's role as resident meanie. But Tyler and Lopez could fill the void left by Abdul. Lopez has some emotional moments. Tyler will fly by the seat of his pants.
During a preview of open-audition scenes, the three judges let some singers through who were off-key.
"For me, it's just as important how they deal with the good ones and how they judge the good ones as well as the bad ones," says executive producer Nigel Lythgoe, "because having been through it all and having experienced everything that these kids are experiencing, they bring an awful lot more good sense to how they continue on in the competition.
"That's, at the end of the day, what we're looking for, is the next superstar, not the bad one."
Lopez and Tyler will set a kinder and gentler environment for "Idol." "They bring more of a critique rather than just 'Pack your suitcase. You're going home,' " says Lythgoe.
"I think they will say, 'In order to stop you packing your suitcase to go home, this is what you should be looking at doing.' "
Other highlights for the week of Jan.16-22 (listings subject to change; check local listings):
"The Tudors" marathon (9 a.m., BBC America). Seasons One and Two will run until 10 p.m. The drama revolves around Henry VIII (Jonathan Rhys-Meyers) and his many wives.
"Big Love" (9 p.m., HBO). As the first of 10 episodes for the final season begins, the neighborhood polygamist is having a rough week: The people on the block hate him and his family, his employees can't stand him and the kids at school are being mean, too. He should just stay home with his three wives and assorted children.
"Being Human" (9 p.m., SyFy). A vampire, a werewolf and a ghost are roommates and try to figure out how to live as mortals. First problem: Who left the dirty dishes in the sink?
"Heavy" (10 p.m., A&E). The obese cast members are told to lose weight or, perhaps, their lives in this 11-part documentary tracing their struggles.
"Harry's Law" (10 p.m., NBC). After being hit by a car, a lawyer (Kathy Bates) gets her life together.
"Skins" (10 p.m., MTV). Want to know what teenagers are doing these days? This drama will fill you in. (But you may want to cover your eyes first.)
"Hot in Cleveland" (10 p.m., TV Land). Elka (Betty White) lands in jail and discovers that her cell mate (Mary Tyler Moore) isn't turning the world on with her smile.
"Retired at 35" (10:30 p.m., TV Land). At 35, an unemployed man decides to drop out of the rat race -- if he can survive being around his retired parents.
"Parks and Recreation" (9:30 p.m., NBC). Leslie (Amy Poehler) thinks she has the perfect plan to raise money for the city's parks program, but it involves the world's oldest profession. Maybe she should go to plan B.
"Fringe" (9 p.m., Fox). Christopher Lloyd from "Back to the Future" drops by this time- and space-traveling sci-fi adventure, but his car isn't a DeLorean.
"Spartacus: Gods of the Arena" (10 p.m., Starz). The prequel tells how the first season's heroes, heroines and villains came to be.
"The Onion" (10 p.m., IFC). Here's something added to the delivery of your non-news of the day: sarcasm.