Jennifer Lopez On “Idol” Mentoring, Single Motherhood and New Movies

Jennifer Lopez has settled back in behind the judges’ table on “American Idol,” and with her freshman season under her belt and a high profile personal life split behind her, don’t expect her to slip into Simon-esque snarkiness.

As she tells PopcornBiz, J-Lo’s still looking to push the contenders to raise their bar without bringing them down, and is still playing to role of idol herself both at work and at home.

On her style of judging contestants this season:

“It hasn't changed. We are still the same people. I'm still an emotional person, but – I don't know, we are a little more comfortable. We are still having fun.  We have amazing talent. So that always makes it more exciting…We don't tell them to come back next year if we don't think they should come back next year. And as far as mentoring them through the process, yeah, we try to give them advice as we would want it to be given to us. That's how I always deliver what I'm saying.  I want to do it in a way where they hear me. At the same time, you know, there's nothing wrong with a little tough love. But there's nothing wrong with a little encouragement either and a little bit of, you know, kind of making them feel great at the same time. So we all have our own styles and personalities in how we do that, but at the end of the day, we are trying to get them through to be the winner, no matter what we say to them.”

On what she’s learned about ‘Idol’ after that first year:

“It’s so funny, because I was such a fan of the show in the beginning so I pretty much knew what the show was, as opposed to Steven [Tyler] who didn’t know what it was at all. He didn’t – he had never watched the show, so he didn’t know what it was but I was someone who’d watched it forever. What do I know about it now? That live TV’s tiring. I didn’t know that. I’d never done live TV, so that’s a big thing. That’s why I marvel at Ryan [Seacrest] when I think about like he gets up at three in the morning and then he comes down. If he can do it I can do it.”

On balancing her career with raising her twins, Max and Emme:

“They are so little and cute. You know, it's a juggling act. Just like any single mom, it's just balancing everything out and making sure that they're okay. They come first, though. They come first. It was so funny because I sat down to look at my schedule for the next few months with my manager, and I was like, ‘Okay. This, this, and this I'm doing with the kids at this time.’ And, you know, that goes first and then everybody works around that. And that's how we do it. That's how we do it, so they feel loved, happy, and like what they are, the most important thing in my life.”

On whether her kids have figured out that Mom’s kind of a big deal:

“It’s funny, they know a little bit of what I do, but now they’re going to be four really soon, in February so they kind of get it. They know I dance, they know I sing. They know hair and makeup and I go and I do things. They don’t know everything, but it’s funny: we get to go out where they’re not bombarded and stuff like that, so I’ve learned how to move in those circles really well so they don’t get too overwhelmed with people and things like that. We do okay.”

On the return of ‘In Living Color,’ the series that gave her a big break as one of the original Fly Girls:

“What? Is that right? Oh my God – I didn’t even know. That’s awesome…I might [go on]. Who knows? I haven’t heard from Keenen [Ivory Wyans] but if he called me and wanted me to do something it would be awesome. I owe Keenen a lot from the beginning of my career. He always believed in me. He always was constantly putting in my brain: ‘You’re going to be a star, do you know that?’ He was a mentor to me, so I wish him the best in that.

On starring in “Parker,” a new film adaptation of Richard Stark’s hard-boiled crime noir novel series:

“I didn’t know the original novel until Taylor Hackford asked me to do it. He said he had a part for me. We’d been talking about working together for years and it was a lot of fun. We shot it this summer. It was great. It was a tough part for me but it was good. It was great working with Taylor finally.”

On her stint appearing in “What to Expect When You’re Expecting”:

"I actually play somebody who can’t have babies so my arc is very different than everybody else’s and I adopt. It’s a really nice storyline. It only took a couple of weeks to shoot everybody’s piece. It’s a big ensemble thing, but I think it’ll be a cute movie."

On developing her new talent search series, aimed at the Latin market:

“We're working on a show called ‘Que Viva.’ I'm actually producing that show, so I have a little bit more leeway on when I do things and when I don't.  And now that we're more into the live part of ‘Idol’ coming up, it's only two days a week, so we're going to have time to work on both at the same time.  It's an exciting project.  I'm really, really excited about it.”

"American Idol" airs tonight at 8 PM ET on Fox

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