This is American Idol - the hit FOX musical reality series following four judges, Simon Cowell, Randy Jackson (II) and Paula Abdul, along with host Ryan Seacrest around the United States in search of the next American Idol, a pop star that truly shines above all the rest. With help from the viewers, they will decide from thousands of participants who will walk away with a record deal and the fame and fortune that is sure to come along with it. American Idol began as a spinoff of Pop Idol, a U.K. series with the same general format and also featuring Simon Cowell as a judge. It has since emerged as hit series in its own right, propelling FOX to the top of television rankings, inspiring various merchandise, and launching the careers of many hit-stars. The show also lead to a short-lived spinoff with younger singers called American Juniors. The series is currently in its ninth season, featuring what the judges are describing as the best crop of new talent yet. Changes have been made to the season, with contestants allowed to play instruments during the program's famous "Hollywood Week" and a renewed focus on talent, rather than guest celebrities. This season also featured different guest judges during the audition process. These judges included Victoria Beckham, Mary J. Blige, Shania Twain, Kristin Chenoweth, Avril Lavigne, Katy Perry, Neil Patrick Harris and Joe Jonas. American Idol can generally be caught Tuesday and Wednesday nights on FOX. However, watch listings, as airings are often extended from their original broadcast times, to as much as two hours in length. You can also catch American Idol: Rewind in syndication, a program narrated by Clay Aiken, featuring the best of past seasons. American Idol is also available on DVD, and specials about the program are often seen on both TV Guide Channel and FOX Reality.