- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 15, 2008

‘Idol’ returns

Will Simon be unduly harsh on some mentally challenged prospective contestant?

Will Paula string together words in a nonsensical fashion? Will Randy ever tire of saying “dawg”?

Will Ryan verbally joust with Simon?

Fans of Fox’s “American Idol” will tune in to see the latest as the reality competition kicks off its seventh season at 8 tonight.

Every season, someone associated with the show claims it’s better than ever. This year it’s Simon Cowell’s turn, notes the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

“Paula and Randy went on record last year saying, ‘The bar has been raised,’ and, ‘This is going to be one of the best years.’ I didn’t go along with that. I didn’t believe it,” says Mr. Cowell, who judges the show alongside Paula Abdul and Randy Jackson. Ryan Seacrest is the host.

“But I will go on record this year in saying it is one of the strongest lineups we’ve had.”

It better be. Many fans were disappointed with last year’s roster of singers (Sanjaya Malakar, anyone?). The “Idol” broadcasts still topped the Nielsens (about 30 million people watched the twice-weekly shows last year), but its ratings were down a bit from their season-five high.

“Last year, it just wasn’t one of our better seasons, and you get that on all of these types of competition shows,” Mr. Cowell said. “You get great years and not-so-great years.”

Elsewhere tonight…

Part two of “Comanche Moon,” the new, six-hour prequel to “Lonesome Dove,” continues at 9 on CBS. The saga concludes tomorrow.

Compiled by Robyn-Denise Yourse and Web and wire reports.

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