Scott Borchetta was the star attraction at American Idol’s umpteenth TV Press Tour appearance; the president and CEO of Big Machine Label Group, aka The Guy Who Discovered Taylor Swift, got asked at the tour today how he would have mentored show judges Keith Urban, Harry Connick, Jr. and Jennifer Lopez.
Borchetta, who’s been brought on board as part of this year’s game plan for shoring up the singing competition’s years-long ratings leak, is going to give career guidance to this year’s competitors and the winner will land a deal with his Big Machine (in partnership with 19 Entertainment and Universal Music Group).
The guy who Rolling Stone has crowned “one of Nashville’s best eyes for chart-climbing talent” kicked it off with his assessment of early Urban.
“I can tell you about Keith Urban in real time,” Borchetta enthused. “I watched his development…That first record, I was so disappointed.”
“They didn’t capture him,” Borchetta said, explaining “no guitar.” It’s a common pitfall for young artists, Borchetta warned – making the album “the producer insists you make” or the artist “thinks they have to make.” Fortunately, Borchetta added quickly, Urban was brave enough to power through that mistake. He was more reserved talking about Connick, Jr., saying the artist “made very specific choices” to be a jazz musician instead of “working to pop.”
“He’s extremely smart and charismatic and, more than anything else, he’s an amazing musician who really cares about this” competition, Borchetta said, veering from the mentoring question.
As to how he would have mentored Jennifer Lopez? “Just get out of the way.”
Earlier in the day, Fox TV Group chairs Dana Walden and Gary Newman said the network was focusing on family friendly reality fare, in the wake of Utopia.
“Our focus right now is building on what we have,” Walden told TV critics. “MasterChef Jr. and American Idol — that’s tonally what we’re hoping to populate our schedule with.”