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American Idol: Ellen DeGeneres Done After One Season

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Well, color me shocked! It was announced Thursday on the official American Idol website that Ellen DeGeneres will be stepping down from her role as judge on the popular singing competition.

“A couple months ago, I let FOX and the American Idol producers know that this didn’t feel like the right fit for me,” DeGeneres said in a statement. “I told them I wouldn’t leave them in a bind and that I would hold off on doing anything until they were able to figure out where they wanted to take the panel next. It was a difficult decision to make, but my work schedule became more than I bargained for. I also realized this season that while I love discovering, supporting and nurturing young talent, it was hard for me to judge people and sometimes hurt their feelings. I loved the experience working on Idol and I am very grateful for the year I had. I am a huge fan of the show and will continue to be.”

DeGeneres had originally signed a reported five-year contract with Idol. However, I’m not really surprised that they’re allowing her to leave after one season.

I remember prior to her appearing on Idol, DeGeneres had said that she would be telling the contestants the truth, and would be coming from the angle of being a fan of music and not completely relying on her comedic background. For the most part of season nine, she did the exact opposite, and came off as a more coherent version of Paula Abdul.

As much as the Idol contestants need a cheerleader at times, they also could have used a judge that could have told them the truth without being mean or rude about it. I think that DeGeneres attempted in the beginning of the season to be this person, and at some point she decided to not give actual useful critiques, instead handing the contestant off to the wolves, Kara DioGuardi and Simon Cowell.

I do think this is a really smart move for DeGeneres in deciding to walk away from Idol. I love her as a daytime talk show host, but as an Idol judge, not so much.

Now that DeGeneres has announced her decision to leave, the rumors have been swirling over her replacement, let alone all the buzz over who is going to replace Simon Cowell.

The Associated Press reported that they received confirmation that Jennifer Lopez is very close to signing on the dotted line and taking a seat at the judge’s panel.

I was quite shocked at this news; in fact I still am.

It was during season six that Lopez was a mentor for the Idol contestants. I don’t remember being too impressed with her mentoring skills.

For as much success as Lopez has had in her career, I don’t find  singing to be her forte. If we’re still considering Idol to be a legit singing competition, Lopez wouldn’t really be someone that I would value receiving singing advice from. (Especially since I have been pulling for Harry Connick, Jr to be named the new judge.)

I view Lopez more as an entertainer. She’s a fantastic dancer and her performances are fun to watch, but when’s the time you’ve seen her on TV singing live? And I mean legit singing like the contestants do during their performances on Idol, not lip syncing. Yeah, I don’t remember either.

I just feel that the Idol contestants would benefit by having a judge who is successful in their singing career and can properly critique their singing. That being said, as of right now neither FOX nor Lopez’s reps have confirmed that Lopez will signing on with Idol for a reported two-year deal.

Now onto the next crazy rumor! TMZ is reporting that judge Kara DioGuardi has been fired, that Idol is planning on going back to the three-judge panel, and that the three judges will be Randy Jackson, Lopez, and Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler.

Idol, what are you doing to me? As much as I love to rag on DioGuardi throughout the Idol season, I really hope that this is a rumor.

Idol needs DioGuardi. She spent season eight making herself look like an idiot, but during season nine on more than one occasion her critiques of the Idol contestants’ performances were on point. We need a judge whose comments will illicit rage from the viewing audience. With Simon Cowell gone, DioGuardi fits the bill.

When it became apparent that Cowell had checked out during season nine to pay more attention to his piles of money, DioGuardi took baby steps toward becoming the new villain on the panel. Sometimes she sounded like an idiot who made me long for Paula Abdul, and sometimes she was so on point that I hated to agree with her. As much as it pains me to say it, we need DioGuardi around for season 10.

As far as Steven Tyler joining the panel, I really haven’t given it much thought. I can’t really picture him as an Idol judge, and I also don’t understand why he would even want the job.

I think the best news to come out of all the Idol judge speculation is the probability of going back to a three-judge panel. If this does pan out, I hope that Idol goes with one of the two options that I think would work best for the show.

Option one: Bring back Paula Abdul. I know that she left and has her own reality show in the works, but I think bringing her crazy back to the show would liven up the panel and in the end benefit the show.

You’d still have Jackson calling everyone “dawg,” then Abdul could compliment their outfits and tell the contestants how beautiful it was to see their soul on stage, and then let DioGuardi give them a legit critique.

Option two: Keep both Jackson and DioGuardi on the panel and the third judge would be whoever was that week’s mentor. I would love to see a mentor call out a contestant for not taking risks that they had discussed during their mentoring sessions. I think it would be interesting to hear what the mentors have to say to the contestants post-performance. Plus, this would definitely benefit the contestants in the end.

So, Idol producers, if you’re reading this, I would say read option two over a couple times. Enough with trying to add “star power” to the show. Idol is supposed to be about the contestants, although I think that line of thinking went out the window around season two.

Alright, Idol fans, what do you think Idol should do with the judging panel? How do you feel about Ellen DeGeneres’ departure from the show and the rumored firing of Kara DioGuardi? Do you think that Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler are good replacements? Let me know in the comments!

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About Kirsten Coachman

Kirsten Coachman is an Entertainment Writer from the San Francisco Bay Area. She has interviewed a variety of people from across the entertainment spectrum, including singer-songwriter/Matchbox Twenty frontman Rob Thomas, Andrew Dost from the Grammy Award-winning band fun., singer-songwriter Christina Perri, and acclaimed writer-director Derek Cianfrance.
  • http://theglenblog.blogspot.com Glen Boyd

    The Idol Franchise looks like its in big trouble. Not only is Ellen out, but now Kara looks to be as well…and J-Lo and Steven Tyler (of all people) look to be on their way in. I think this may be the beginning of the end for Idol. Gotta hand it to em’ though, they had a hell of a run.

    -Glen

  • http://www.maskedmoviesnobs.com El Bicho

    Never should have brought Ellen in. She was terrible. A random stranger pulled off the street knew as much about music and that would have been more interesting. With her gone they should rethink Howard Stern.

    I liked Kara as long as she wasn’t hitting on contestants. She seemed to know her stuff.

  • http://theglenblog.blogspot.com Glen Boyd

    Howard’s acerbic personality would be a perfect fit for the Simon spot, plus he would add some humor to the mix (assuming the producers could rein him in anyway).

    Steven Tyler though? Now, that’s just plain weird on what is mostly a pop music brand.

    -Glen

  • http://www.thetweeetingquill.com thetweetingquill

    I guess it just didn’t match Ellen’s personality being an Idol judge. Her comedic comments were interesting, but was not useful to the contestants other than her banana analogy.