No one would ever accuse Jennifer Lopez of slacking off, especially now that she’s doing two TV shows and performing live in Las Vegas in between.
While judging the farewell season of FOX’s American Idol on Wednesday and Thursday nights (8/7c), she’s exec producing and starring in NBC’s Thursday night police corruption drama Shades of Blue (10/9c) as Harlee Santos, a New York cop whose loyalty to her bribe-taking boss (Ray Liotta) is tested when she’s forced to inform on him for the FBI.
She’s winning raves for the gritty role and for her just-launched concert extravaganza at Las Vegas’ Planet Hollywood. So naturally, we asked her how the f she does it all…
“I just do what excites me. It’s very kind of from-the-gut for me.”
With all you have going on, why take on a TV drama series?
It was just a really exciting opportunity to do something that I hadn’t done in a while in a different way than I had done in a long time. I just do what excites me. It’s very kind of from-the-gut for me.
How hands-on are you as a producer?
I’m really involved in every decision that goes on, from the way the set looks to what everybody is wearing to the way the scene feels; the development of it, reading the scripts and putting my input into it; the casting of the show, bringing in of all the crew, everything. It’s actually a lot of fun to create something from the ground up like that and be involved at such an early stage.
Did you have to step up your workout for the Shades of Blue action scenes?
I did do the boxing, which I’d learned on Money Train. But it wasn’t one of those things where I felt like I had to be buff. She’s physically fit. She works out, but she’s not a fanatic about it. I think it had to be more like real life. Harlee gets to the gym but not as much as people like me have to, always having to stay fit and worry about my appearance.
Were you filming Shades of Blue and doing American Idol auditions at the same time?
Yeah, I would go on weekends to film Idol. It was challenging. It was hard, but we got through it, and I just tried to take it day by day. It was challenging schedule-wise, but everybody was super respectful, super helpful to make it all work.
What stands out in your memories of doing Idol?
The whole journey of it was just amazing to me. Simon, Paula and Randy kind of had a certain dynamic between them, but it was 10 years and I think people at that moment needed a refresh. I think it did give a second wind to the show over the past few years, and I’m excited that I was a part of that. I was the anti-Simon in a way.
What will you miss most about it?
Working with talent, working with musicians, working with singers, I’ve enjoyed this journey so much more than I thought I would. Just to really talk about music and talk about performance, I really feel like it has enriched me in a way. Helping contestants has helped me grow as a performer over the past five, six years. I’ve thought about different things I can do to continue that, maybe starting a label. I see all of this amazing talent that exists, but I’m just bogged down right now.
Right, especially with your Vegas show. Details?
I’m doing a three‑year residency at Planet Hollywood. It will be 40 shows a year to start. I do a few shows now. I do a few shows in May. I do a few shows in July and August, a few shows at the end of the year. Then we do Season 2 of Shades of Blue—we’ll work around it. Fortunately we have a big cast so I can have days off. We’re making it work.
Lead photo by Jeff Reidel/NBC; second photo by Michael Becker/FOX.