Archives for American Idol

It’s Official: Ellen DeGeneres Is the New ‘American Idol’ Judge

This one feels like it’s coming out of left field, but Ellen DeGeneres as the Paula Abdul replacement on American Idol? Actually makes a lot of sense.

With Simon as the tough guy, Randy as the, um, laid-back guy, and Kara as the sometimes harsh one who seems to have a few more detractors than fans, the fourth judge spot really needed to be filled by someone who is pretty universally well-liked. And when you try to think of celebrities that almost everyone loves, well, it comes down to Ellen and Neil Patrick Harris. Can you think of anyone else who belongs on that list? And does Ellen as the new judge make you think “Paula who”?

The official press release from Fox on DeGeneres’ hiring:


Emmy Award-winning talk show host Ellen DeGeneres has joined AMERICAN IDOL as a fourth judge. DeGeneres will sit alongside Simon Cowell, Randy Jackson and Kara DioGuardi and offer her own unique perspective to the contestants throughout the competition.

The ninth season of AMERICAN IDOL premieres January 2010 on FOX. DeGeneres will join the judges’ panel after the auditions, which will feature appearances by guest judges Victoria Beckham, Mary J. Blige, Kristin Chenoweth, Joe Jonas, Neil Patrick Harris, Avril Lavigne, Katy Perry and Shania Twain.

“I’m thrilled to be the new judge on AMERICAN IDOL,” said DeGeneres. “I’ve watched since the beginning, and I’ve always been a huge fan. So getting this job is a dream come true, and think of all the money I’ll save from not having to text in my vote.”
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Neil Patrick Harris Does ‘Idol’

Of the many guest judges announced to fill in for Paula Abdul on American Idol next season, Neil Patrick Harris is by far the most interesting. And lest we think NPH is too nice a guy to drop a helping of reality on some of the more disastrous auditioners, he tells Entertainment Weekly otherwise:

“… when someone sits outside for 11 hours in Dallas, Texas, to audition for American Idol, a show that they’ve seen, they know the beratement,” Harris tells EW. “They know the caustic judgment. And then they come out and they sing and they’re terrible. And they seriously think that they’re talented. They must be told that they’re terrible. They don’t need to be embarrassed. I would never tell someone that they’re ugly, or that they should be ashamed of themselves. But it’s now time for the family that’s always told them that they’re the best singer and that they could win it — it’s time to let them know that they should probably not audition for this show anymore. And I had no problem being the guy to say that.

Harris also talks about hosting the Emmys on Sept. 20, his plans to bring back musical and dance numbers to the awards show and his love of So You Think You Can Dance. One of the most charming things about the How I Met Your Mother star is that he’s a big TV/pop culture fan himself, which makes his gig hosting the Emmys something to look forward to next month.

And by the way, the growing list of celebs who’ve made Idol guest judge appearances so far, in addition to NPH: Mary J. Blige, Victoria Beckham, Joe Jonas, Katy Perry, Kelly Clarkson, Shania Twain and Kristin Chenoweth.

Oh, and the latest news on Paula Abdul: She may star in her own Las Vegas revue show.

Ryan Seacrest and Ben Stiller: Twitter Pals?

Love this funny little clip in which Ben Stiller tries to get Ryan Seacrest to throw a  Twitter shoutout his way. Seacrest, who, as’s Mandi Bierly points out, shows off some comedy chops in the video, has more than 2,000,000 Twitter followers. Stiller has around 161,000.

Seacrest’s best line: “I don’t even talk to anybody who has less than 900,000 followers.”

Channel Surfing – August 6

All the tube news that’s fit to surf …

– Fox doesn’t seem to be too upset about Paula Abdul‘s Twitter resignation. They’re already lining up her replacement, which will initially mean celeb guest judges like Victoria “Posh Spice” Beckham and Katy Perry.

– I don’t think Jay Leno is as funny as this writer does, but he did give a great answer when critics asked why he’s so confident about his new primetime talk show: “I’m rich now,” Leno said.

– The Second City comedy troupe will celebrate its 50th anniversary this fall with a reunion in Chicago. Among the group’s alumni: 30 Rock-ers Tina Fey and Jack McBrayer, Martin Short, Stephen Colbert, Dan Aykroyd, John Belushi, John Candy, Steve Carell, Chris Farley, Bill Murray, Mike Myers, Amy Poehler, Gilda Radner, Joan Rivers, Amy Sedaris, Fred Willard, Eugene Levy and Dave Thomas.

– Another day, another daytime soap drama: The Young & the Restless, CBS’ top-rated soap, has been renewed for two years, but the renewal comes with budget cuts that will likely mean cast firings.

– Check out the cover of Screech’s Saved by the Bell tell-all.

Disappointing news for us Chuck devoted: The show is unlikely to return to NBC’s line-up before March 2010, and possibly not until summer 2010.

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Paula Abdul Pulls the Plug on Her ‘American Idol’ Gig

Paula Abdul Twittered Tuesday night that she won’t be returning to American Idol next season, and though that seemed like it might be a last-ditch negotiation tactic on her part, Fox has issued a statement confirming she’s gone:

“Paula Abdul has been an important part of the American Idol family over the last eight seasons and we are saddened that she has decided not to return to the show. While Paula will not be continuing with us, she’s a tremendous talent and we wish her the best.”

Wow. I’m truly surprised that Fox and the AI producers would let the situation spin this out of control with Abdul. That she was demanding, according to rumors, to be paid as much as Simon Cowell or Ryan Seacrest – both of whom I would argue are more integral to the show than Abdul, judge Randy Jackson and most definitely newbie judge Kara DioGuardi – was unreasonable, but that the two sides couldn’t come to a compromise is ridiculous on both sides.

Abdul’s absence will be felt on Idol. DioGuardi is not a suitable replacement, as evidenced by the fact that, in most polls, the numbers of people who wanted her not to return for another season were pretty equal to the number of people who did want to see her back. If the judging table consists of only Simon, Randy and Kara for season nine, I think we viewers will really miss Paula’s loopiness, her chemistry with Simon, and, though it could be annoying when she went on and on about a certain contestant at times, her positivity.

That’s not to say Abdul isn’t replaceable. Cowell isn’t. Abdul may be, but it won’t be easy. DioGuardi didn’t click with viewers the way Abdul did. There are more rumors that an Abdul replacement will be added to the mix … last month, there were even stories that Jennifer Lopez had been approached to take over Abdul’s chair. That could have been interesting, but since J. Lo shot those murmurings down right away, it isn’t likely to happen. So, as it stands right now, we’re looking at a table of just three judges, with one who people love to hate and hate to love, one who just hasn’t bonded with viewers at all and one who seems to have three speeds: “Yo dawg, that was hot,” “Yo dawg, that was pitchy” and namechecking all the musicians he’s worked with in his career.

As for Abdul, her music career is, at best, an afterthought at this point, and while she still has her HSN jewelry line, her weekly appearances on Idol served as a (free) platform for pimping the trinkets, which she often wore on the show and even passed along to contestants.

In short, Idol needs Abdul (maybe not to the tune of the $20 million a year she reportedly demanded, but still) and Abdul needs Idol. The show’s a cash cow … hard to believe execs weren’t willing to make sure a deal happened. With ratings on the show slipping with each season, something, clearly, needs to change to keep viewers’ interest, but letting Abdul bounce isn’t that change.

Here’s hoping that in the few days left before the show officially begins auditioning for the 2010 season, savvier heads will prevail.

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