Top TV stories of 2009: Paula is out at Idol, and Ellen is in

by Kona Gallagher, posted Dec 29th 2009 1:02PM
american idol2009 was a big year for American Idol. After airing for seven wildly successful seasons with three judges, Simon Cowell, Randy Jackson and Paula Abdul, producers decided to throw a fourth judge into the mix, bringing songwriter Kara DioGuardi on board for season eight. It was a controversial move, and to the surprise of very few people, it went ... poorly.

The judges, who had spent seven seasons learning the rhythm of the show, were suddenly forced to contend with a fourth voice. As none of these folks were exactly shrinking violets to begin with, this led to a lot of jockeying for the mic, which in turn wasted a lot of time. It wasted so much time, in fact, that critiques would get cut off, the show would run long, and at times, judges wouldn't be allowed to speak at all.

So at the end of this harried season, it was no surprise that someone would be shown the door. Many thought that it would be newbie judge Kara DioGuardi. Instead, it was Paula Abdul who was given the boot, and replaced by music legend ... Ellen DeGeneres?

If you would have asked me any other season if Abdul was likely to be replaced on Idol, I would have replied, "absolutely." Quite frankly, she was a trainwreck. Her praise was overly effusive at best, and completely nonsensical at worst. This past season, however, it seemed as though she really stepped up her game. I don't know if it was the inherent competition that bringing DioGuardi on the show created, or if she was on the ball for other reasons. Regardless, the weak link in season eight was not Paula Abdul.

It's been rumored that Abdul wasn't fired for her performance, but rather let go due to a salary dispute. Whatever the reason, letting her go seemed like a good way to get the show back to three judges and allow it to find its equilibrium once again. So it was a further shock when Idol producers announced that not only were they going to stick with the four-judge format, but that they were bringing on mega-successful talk show host and standup comedian, Ellen DeGeneres.

Unlike the rest of the judges, DeGeneres has absolutely no musical experience. Fans who believe that Idol is still a pure musical competition may be dismayed by this fact, but the folks who watch it strictly for some good ol' reality show competition will find her addition to be a breath of fresh air. Every single person who watches Idol has yelled at the screen at least fifty times per episode. DeGeneres is bringing that perspective straight to the judges table.

While she's not a music expert, she is a fan. Cowell is a music executive -- he signs the bands. Jackson is a producer, and DioGuardi is a songwriter. They've all been involved in the process. DeGeneres is the person who's downloading the songs off of iTunes, and will bring that unique perspective to the show this season.

Idol is taking a gamble: by keeping the four-judge format and replacing Paula Abdul, it's messing with a formula that has brought them nothing but success for the better part of a decade. With the new season premiering in two weeks (Tuesday, January 12), 2010 will be the year when we see if Idol's big gamble from 2009 pays off.

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Ellen has said on her show (I think when she first annonced it) that she will be on after the "try-outs round" (whatever you want to call it) is over.... so, we won't be seeing her for a while... which saddens me... Ellen giving her thoughts on some of the fails of American Idol would of had me rolling on the floor laughing. She cracks me up all on her own as it is....

December 29 2009 at 8:38 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Isn't it strange that Fox is showing no commercials with Ellen in them? Any time they show the judges table, there are just 3 chairs. I guess she won't be in the early eps or something.

Personally I'd have rather seen both Kara & Paula replaced by Ellen. I can at least stand the sight of her much more.

December 29 2009 at 6:04 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
David Cook is my Idol!

I really wish they had kept it to three judges. Four is too many. I'm glad Paula is gone.

December 29 2009 at 5:07 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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