Jennifer Lopez’s official return as an American Idol judge announced on Tuesday also saw a well-timed public acknowledgment from the 44-year-old that performing for a dictator was not her finest hour.
Amid a statement from Fox Broadcasting’s chairman of entertainment, Kevin Reilly, on the line-up of what will be season 13 of the popular television talent franchise, the Latina held up her hand to her mistake in an interview in the October 2013 issue of Cosmopolitan.
Alluding to the public fall-out she experienced in June after it emerged she sang “Happy Birthday” to the Turkmenistan President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow — a noted human rights abuser — that same month, Lopez told the magazine:
“I know that being seen as a role model means taking responsibility for all my actions. I am human, and of course, sometimes I make mistakes,” she said.
The mother-of-two added: “But I promise that when I fall, I get back up. When I am wrong, I will learn the lesson and move on to face other challenges. For me, that’s what creating your own life is. Doing your best work while being your best self.”
As apologies go it will probably won’t satisfy the Human Rights Foundation (HRF), who at the time, described the President’s rule in Turkmenistan as “among the most repressive in the world.”
Previously, Lopez’s camp denied knowledge of Berdimuhamedow’s appalling track record adding that the singer’s appearance at his birthday celebration has been a last minute attendance.
But HRF President Thor Halvorssen added to the organization’s website denouncement of the singer which claimed she had earned over $10 million by “serenading crooks and dictators,” saying:
“What those covering this story have missed is that J.Lo and her management have misled her fans and the public. J.Lo has repeatedly mingled with and entertained some of the world’s worst thugs and their cronies. The ‘Jenny-from-the-block-who-doesn’t-Google’ clarification may be credible in one instance, but it beggars belief in light of a pattern of repeated behavior. This is not about ignorance, it’s about greed.”
Meanwhile, in the Cosmopolitan interview Lopez seems keen to present a relatable, fallible image now that she will be beaming into American households once more as an Idol judge.
Confessing to feelings of insecurity, the veteran hoofer told the glossy, “It was after I had kids to be honest … The biggest insecurity I had was my singing. Even though I had sold 70 million records, there was this feeling like, ‘I’m not good at this.'”
She explains: “And while I was married to Marc [Anthony], he helped me get over it. He kept telling me, ‘You’re the only one holding yourself back from reaching your full potential as a singer. You have to let go’ … I was always so insecure and just kind of going along,” says Lopez.
She adds, “Then I grew, little by little, and realized, wait a minute, this is not a fluke. I’m not a mistake – I work my a** off. And I know what I’m doing.”
Over at Fox, however, the mood today is wholly positive.
While revealing the three Idol judges as Emmy Award winning singer Harry Connick Jr. and fellow returnee country singer Keith Urban and Lopez, it was announced that Randy Jackson will come back as an in-house mentor for the show’s in January.
“American Idol has always been about discovering the next singing superstar, and next season our judging panel will deliver a most impressive combination of talent, wisdom and personality to do just that,” Reilly said in a statement.
“Jennifer Lopez, the triple-threat global superstar who loves Idol and whom Idol fans love; Harry Connick Jr., a bona fide musical genius and fantastic Idol mentor whose honesty and expertise can help turn these hopefuls into stars; [and] Keith Urban, a multi-Grammy-winning artist who was such a positive force on the show last season,” he added.
The American Idol shake-ups are part of a concerted effort that saw the show’s longtime producer Nigel Lythgoe let go in June, to boost the program’s plummeting ratings and bring viewership back to its 30 million heyday of around six or seven years ago.
Fox Entertainment, a unit of News corp, will be hoping its new Swedish producer Per Blankens and trio of Idol judges can restore the show to its former glory.
As for Lopez’s long-term reputation, that remains to be seen.