Photo: Frank Micelotta/FOX
American Idol judge (in name only) Jennifer Lopez hinted on the Ellen show that she might not be returning for a third season as judge on the program, Billboard.Com reports.
Not that she, or the other two, have been asked to come back yet. My guess is that the savvy JLo is making her announcement now as a face-saving gesture -- leave before they ask you to leave. Fact is Idol's ratings have declined considerably this season and the show's producers have allowed the hit series to grow stale. New ideas are nonexistant. The finalists still sing the same Motown-era oldies, the themes devoted to passe acts (Billy Joel, Queen) repeat ad nauseum and the format hasn't grown. Idol still wastes months on boring audition shows rather than getting down to business the way better competition shows like Dancing With the Stars do.
Add a talent lineup among the weakest yet -- Scream, Screech and Snooze are your Top 3, folks -- and it's clear some major shakeups need to happen.
Replacing the three judges would be a start. Idol is still far out front ratingswise over its competitors, The Voice and X-Factor, and has managed to make some stars out of its contestants, something the others haven't come close to accomplishing (Melanie Amaro, really Simon?)
But Idol's judging panel steadfastly refuses to judge. Everything is "beautiful" to Steven Tyler, everyone's a "dude" to monosyllabic Randy and JLo's saccharine speeches of praise are more than tiresome. The judges' standing ovations are also unprofessional. Judges should judge and not act like fans.
Additionally, the Idol panel is not as contemporary as The Voice or X Factor panels and they are pricey. JLo alone earns $12 million ($3 million less than Britney's reportedly scoring for her X gig). Tyler judging teenage pop wannabes is just plain creepy. Keeping Randy last year was a good idea to maintain some continuity on the panel but his time has come, too.
With renewals come raises and there's no justification to give raises or renew the judge's contracts for another season. Best decision Fox could make is to jolt Idol with freshness, replace the entire panel, scrap the themes it has overused, and get the masses excited and curious again.
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