Ryan Seacrest Is No. 1 on THR's Reality Power List
With nary a screen test between American Idol's two new stars, Fremantle's North American chief Cecile Frot-Coutaz, who executive produces the ratings behemoth and runs its Burbank-based production company, made the biggest casting decision of her career when she agreed to hire Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler to sit alongside Randy Jackson. "There are a lot of stakeholders, which is really hard," says the French-born executive and mother of two, about working on Idol while navigating the demands of four executive producers, multiple Fox higher-ups, a host, judges and a crop of contestants. "It's like you're married, but divorce is not an option. You have to make it work." And does she ever. While many had written off the singing competition in its post-Cowell incarnation, the show has retained almost all of its 25 million viewers in season 10. Still, for Frot-Coutaz, the next few weeks may feel like Groundhog Day as she repeats the peacemaker process for The X Factor (premiering in September on Fox). "Over the years, I've learned how to be a good partner and still preserve the interests of the company that pays my salary and the TV show," she says. "But it's a long-term game."