As Ellen DeGeneres leaves American Idol, can J. Lo and Steven Tyler save TV's biggest show?
LOS ANGELES -- Ellen DeGeneres came to the same conclusion as many critics and fans Thursday night, releasing a statement through Fox that she was quitting her position as judge on the hit singing competition American Idol because the show "didn't feel like the right fit for me."
The DeGeneres announcement spurred lots more stories. Jennifer Lopez has reportedly signed a contract to serve as a judge on the show and TMZ.com is reporting Kara DioGuardi is also gone from the panel, which will contract again to three people and include Aerosmith singer Steven Tyler(!?).
Wise to Hollywood's insincere ways, critics here wondered if the DeGeneres statement was just Fox's way of letting her depart with dignity -- allowing the comic to say the departure was her idea, when they planned to drop her all along.
In her statement Thursday, DeGeneres hinted that rumors Idol producers were planning major changes to the judges' panel might have some merit, saying she had originally agreed to "hold off on doing anything until they were able to figure out where they wanted to take the panel next."
Considered an inspired pick for the judges' panel just a few months ago, DeGeneres seemed to struggle for a role once she debuted on Idol -- where she was never quite funny, nurturing or perceptive enough. Starting strong with a serious, business-like attitude during the show's Hollywood rounds, she floundered when the live shows began, hesitant to criticize the contestants too much and unable to offer many perceptive observations.
The currently rumored new panel, if true, would indicate Idol producers skewing toward star power and musical experience in revamping the judges. No surrogates for the audience needed here. And given my resemblance to a certain aging hipster judge, I find it particularly satisfying that Randy Jackson -- the guy whose name surfaced most often as likely to be booted from the show -- is the only one left standing in all the overhauling.
Fox faces TV critics here on Monday. Expect a feeding frenzy from a media crowd primed by all the rumors reported so far...
Click below to see Fox's official statement on it all:
ELLEN DEGENERES BOWS OUT AS JUDGE ON “AMERICAN IDOL”
Ellen DeGeneres has decided to bow out from her role as a judge on AMERICAN IDOL next season. DeGeneres served as a judge during the ninth season of IDOL, the No. 1 hit series on television.
“A couple months ago, I let FOX and the AMERICAN IDOL producers know that this didn’t feel like the right fit for me,” said DeGeneres. “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.”
“We love Ellen and understand and support her decision to bow out of IDOL,” said Peter Rice, Chairman of Entertainment, Fox Networks Group. “We were fortunate to receive the humor, energy and love for talent that she brought to the show.”
“It was a joy to work with Ellen,” added Mike Darnell, President of Alternative Entertainment, Fox Broadcasting Company. “She brought an incredible spirit to IDOL and was a great new addition to the team. While we’re saddened by her decision, we are very appreciative that she gave us ample notice so that we could work through it together.”
“I loved Ellen’s passion for the artists and her nurturing skills,” said IDOL creator and executive producer Simon Fuller. “She brought honesty and optimism to our judging panel and I will miss her greatly.”
“We will miss Ellen, she has been the consummate professional throughout her time on the show, and she’ll always be part of the AMERICAN IDOL family,” added Cecile Frot-Coutaz, IDOL executive producer.
AMERICAN IDOL is created and executive-produced by Simon Fuller, founder of 19 Entertainment; and executive-produced by Cecile Frot-Coutaz, CEO, FremantleMedia North America, Inc. and Ken Warwick, Executive Producer, FremantleMedia North America, Inc.