'American Idol' Season 14: Same judges, better talentAdd to Favorites | American Idol
"It's still a very strong show for us and it's a show that we love," he tells reporters at the 2014 Television Critics Association summer press tour. "I do think if that if I have a criticism of the show for us last year is we haven't found in the last two years a group of kids who've captured the imagination of the public. They've been really talented kids, but for whatever reason there hasn't been that sort of catalyst behind the show."
Now that there's a new production team -- executive producer Per Blankens and his team will remain -- and a solid judging panel -- Jennifer Lopez, Harry Connick Jr. and Keith Urban will all return -- the show can focus on what's important: the talent.
"How do we try and focus on that and concentrate on that and not get wrapped up in this constant conversation about who should be the judges and whether they're doing a good job?" asks Rice.
Ultimately, though, the network is still happy with its prized reality hit. "I think it is aging gracefully," Rice says. "We've certainly played musical chairs in the last few years with the judges and I think we felt very good about the production of the show this year. The feedback we got from the fans was they really liked this group of judges, so we're excited about the new season."