Sunday, August 1, 2010

Has "American Idol" jumped the shark?

2 months after American Idol ended its 9th season, after Simon Cowell had bade farewell to the Fox franchise (he'll bring his British series, X Factor, to the US next year), 2 more judges have decided to follow Cowell out the door.

Kara DioGuardi, who joined the series in 2009, is leaving after 2 seasons, according to published reports. This news comes on the heels of talk show hostess Ellen DeGeneres announcing that she was stepping down after just 1 season. Ellen, you'll recall, was brought in to fill the chair vacated by Paula Abdul. Apparently, Ellen didn't feel quite as comfortable as she (and Idol fans & producers) had originally thought, offering constructive criticism to the contestants. Part of her deal with Idol enabled Ellen to obtain exclusive interviews with ousted contestants on her talk show, and while she might still get to do interviews with Idol contestants, she won't have any inside information next season.

Now, there are 2, possibly 3, chairs to fill alongside Randy Jackson for Idol's 10th anniversary season in 2011. Ticket sales on the annual Idol concert tour have dropped dramatically, leading to cancellations in some cities, though the show did go on as planned in Albany a couple of weeks back. This is part of the backlash over the critical perception that the 2010 season was, in some people's minds, the weakest, as they apparently don't see long-term success for this year's winner, Lee DeWyse. Of course, part of the problem with the concert tour is that the tickets have been overpriced. Always have been, but that's a story for another day.

So the question remains. Has American Idol jumped the shark? If it did, it was probably when Paula Abdul left after 8 seasons, and not after this season. Now, the speculation will start anew as to who will not only fill Simon's chair, but Ellen's and maybe Kara's, because there's no guarantee they'll stay with 4 judges. They may go back to 3, as they had for the first 7 seasons. By January, we'll know for sure.

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