Call it the latest Justin Bieber effect American Idol has announced that it is reducing the qualifying age for contestants from 16 to 15. (The maximum age remains 28.) "A lot of young, talented people are now seeking careers and representation before they turn 16. Lowering the age limit allows us to tap into this talent pool," said Cecile Frot-Coutaz, Idol 's executive producer. The move prompted an immediate backlash from some websites. The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly each commented that the show might as well be renamed The Search for the Next Justin Bieber . But James Poniewozik said on the Time magazine website that he doubts that the ploy will work "I'm simply not sure Idol has the capacity to create a Bieber in this day and age. I've broached this idea before, but an artist like Bieber -- who comes from nowhere and builds bottom-up support through social media like Twitter -- suggests that there is already an Idol -like counterforce out there that the TV show can't replicate" On the other hand, the Los Angeles Times suggested that capturing a younger audience may not be the primary purpose of the move and questioned whether it will change the series' dynamic. But it probably will inspire a fresh burst of energy from high-schoolers hoping to make it to Hollywood before they are sweet 16."