Now That Kara DioGuardi Is Gone, Here’s What “American Idol” Really Needs to Do Next Season
Just when I thought I’d heard it all before, along came “American Idol” producer Nigel Lythgoe with the following bunch of hogwash about the show’s upcoming 10th season:
We will be bringing the spotlight back onto the talent and away from the judges,” he told People magazine. “I think that’s really very important, especially when you lose such a superb judge as Simon Cowell. You need to move the spotlight off him very quickly! But in truth, we’ve forgotten that it’s the talent that drives the program at the end of the day.
So why, then, are Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler reportedly joining the panel of judges next season (set to premiere on Jan. 12, 2011), and why are Elton John, Shania Twain and Justin Timberlake all under consideration for the spots left vacant by Cowell and Ellen Degeneres? If anyone can take the focus away from a bunch of unknown, mediocre singers and put it squarely on the people critiquing them, it’s Timberlake. And Lopez? All the she’s in-she’s out-no, she’s-back-in concerning Lopez’s status with the show is enough to give me a serious case of whiplash. If she really is in next season, will anyone be able to concentrate on another butchering of a Beatles classic on Lennon/McCartney Night when all we can think about is what Lopez is going to say and whether she’ll embarrass herself by saying it?
I couldn’t be more thrilled about the just-announced exit of Kara DioGuardi. To me, she was unlikable from day one and basically a waste of air space during her two seasons on the show. I doubt that she will be missed by anyone, but her departure means that the producers now have three spots to fill with big A-list names, or perhaps they’ll make a smart move and return to a three-judge panel.
Though I’ve long been saying that they should offer Elton John the earth, the sun and the moon to get him to sign on, I think he’s the only big name they should be pursuing. When “Idol” premiered in 2002, Paula Abdul was the only judge that anyone had heard of before, and after her short late-’80s/early ’90s stint as a pop superstar, she had become something of a joke. “Idol” was taking as much of a gamble with her as they were with Randy Jackson.
No one saw Cowell’s breakout popularity coming, and I’ve often wondered if the show would have been such a huge success if he hadn’t been there to offer his snide, cutting commentary from the very beginning. His chemistry and clashes with Abdul and host Ryan Seacrest often were more entertaining than what we should have been tuning in to see. Of course, those who had been watching the U.K. version, “Pop Idol,” were well aware of Cowell’s cranky ways, so to them, he was no big discovery when he debuted on the U.S. version. Still, when he was hired for “Pop Idol,” which debuted for the first of two seasons in 2001, the producers were risking a lot on the music executive who signed Westlife, an Irish boy band with more U.K. No. 1′s than any other boy band outside of the Beatles, but who had enjoyed only one notable U.S. success, with Five, a British vocal group whose sole American hit was 1998′s “When the Lights Go Out.”
Lightning never strikes twice, but perhaps it will make a one-time exception. If the producers were smart, after snagging Elton, they’d toss their celebrity wish list, and consider some behind-the-scenes movers and shakers (Clive Davis is duller than dirt, but I’d tune in just to see if Tommy Mottola digs up and dishes any dirt on his ex Mariah Carey), sign one on, and hope for the best.
Oh, and they could dump Seacrest while they’re at it.
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