Music superstar Miley Cyrus, far right, mentors the "Final 11"...

Music superstar Miley Cyrus, far right, mentors the "Final 11" on "American Idol" airing Tuesday, March 23, 2010, on Fox. Credit: Fox

Fifteen? As in: years old? Then for the first time in a decade-long run, "American Idol" wants you. The show dropped the lower end of its age limit from 16 to 15 Monday, in what "Idol" declared a "celebration of the momentous 10th anniversary."

That . . . or the blunt fact that millions of teens have abandoned the show in the past few years.

In a statement, Cecile Frot-Coutaz, one of "Idol's" executive producers, said, "A lot of young, talented people are now seeking careers and representation before they turn 16. The age limit allows us to tap into this talent pool."

In fact, young talents have long begun their careers well before 16 - Michael Jackson ring a bell? - but "Idol" kept the age limit at 16 for a number of reasons, including an unsuccessful 2003 attempt to spin off a show called "American Juniors" with young contestants. With the decline in teen viewers, the arbitrary cutoff point became counterproductive.

Auditions start July 17 in Nashville and will come to the IZOD Center in East Rutherford, N.J., on Aug. 3.

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