Jennifer Lopez wasn’t planning on returning to the world of reality competition judging — at least, not so soon. After all, she spent five seasons as a judge on “American Idol,” a job she never expected to do in the first place. But as the executive producer on NBC’s “World of Dance,” it soon became obvious that she should return behind the judges’ table.
“I was a producer on it, so naturally it came up,” Lopez said. At first, she was hesitant: “I didn’t think so, and we started trying to interview people and put them together,” she said. But “the chemistry was never quite right. Until they were like, think about it, it’s your show, you produce it, you own it. I was like, I want it to have its best shot and I know how to do this.”
IndieWire sat down with Lopez recently to discuss “World of Dance,” as well as why now was the time to end her other NBC series, “Shades of Blue,” after three seasons. We also discussed whether she watched the new edition of “American Idol,” if she still plans to revisit “Bye Bye Birdie Live!” for NBC, and what’s next in her busy career. Listen below!
Lopez realized that “World of Dance” needed an anchor, and that she could be the person with the experience on a competition show to be that center. “I thought maybe I could be that anchor since I’ve got experience, and I’ll surround myself with other interesting people,” she said.
That ultimately became Derek Hough, NE-YO and host/mentor Jenna Dewan. In partnership with the global dance brand World of Dance, the series brings the world’s elite dancers together to compete for a Million dollar prize. The showcase includes hip-hop, popping, locking, tap, ballet, break dancing, ballroom, stomping and more.
“I knew dancers had never been shown in the way that I know them. And because I’ve been a dancer since I was about 5 years old and also because through my whole career I was a dancer first, and I just know this world and I know what dancers are like,” she said. “With all the competition shows out there it never got to the heart and the dream and the passion and commitment and athleticism and the courageousness and everything that goes along with being a dancer. Being that nameless, faceless person behind somebody. And I wanted to make them the stars. Not them dancing with a star or a bunch of other people.”
As for the end of “Shades of Blue,” which ends its run this month, Lopez said, “It’s time to move on and we always knew this would have a finite run. When we got to the third season, I was like, ‘I think we’re done with this.’ And the way the season ends, I think this is it. I did three years in Vegas [with her residency there] and three years on ‘Shades’ and it seemed perfect to move on to the next chapter for me.”
Nonetheless, Lopez called the decision “bittersweet.” “I really loved this character and could have done it another couple of years, easily. They would have. But it was time. This character of all the characters I’ve played is probably my favorite. And one that affected me the most. Permeated my soul. She was so complex and deep down a good person that was so playing outside the lines of morality and her own ethics and integrity and really struggling all the time. That struggle is something we all go through and it made me examine my own struggles and my own life and help me grow.”
With “Shades of Blue” and her residency in Vegas ending, Lopez has been focusing back on her music and film careers. That’s also why “Bye Bye Birdie Live!” wound up being shelved. “It didn’t quite come together in that moment, but it’s still on the docket and the wishlist!”
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