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Five ways we hope the new judge upgrades American Idol



DioguardibigportraitThe growing backlash among viewers and critics this year made it plain: Fox needs to upgrade American Idol before the franchise gets seriously stale.

So why have the first two changes centered on stuff that doesn’t need alteration – the departure of savvy producer Nigel Lythgoe and the addition of a fourth judge, Kara DioGuardi?

The arrival of DioGuardi -- a singer-songwriter who has worked with Gwen Stefani, the Jonas Brothers, Taylor Hicks, Carrie Underwood and fellow judge Paula Abdul -- is particularly puzzling. Given that the judges’ remarks are often the show’s most leaden part, that’s the last thing that needs expansion.

Whatever. Here’s five ways we hope DioGaurdi actually improves American Idol.

Sanjaya1_2  Pick better contestants – Due respect to David Cook and Jordin Sparks, but the last two Idol seasons have felt hobbled by a collection of mostly underwhelming contestants (yes, Sanjaya Malakar and Kristy Lee Cook I’m talking about you). Fifteen minutes trolling Greenwich Village clubs would net better singers than Idol offers all season; maybe DioGuardi can raise the bar a bit.

Get Paula off the crazy train – or on it, entirely – Stress over competing with DioGuardi (who Abduldioguardibettercombines Randy Jackson’s credits and Simon Cowell’s attitude with Abdul’s sex appeal) will either push Idol’s only other female judge completely over the edge or force her to get it together at last. Ratings-wise, female viewers love a good soap opera and male viewers love a good catfight, so everybody wins!

Upgrade judges comments – The judges banality became a serious problem last season, as Jackson was incomprehensible, Abdul was hopelessly trite and Cowell was too egotistical to be entertaining. A fourth judge shortens everyone’s comments; surely someone smart enough to make Paris Hilton sound like a singer can make this group interesting again.

Make the auditions better – We are so over the hours of audition shows ricocheting from intentionally Cowellseacrestheadshot_2 bizarre freakizoids to poignant features on real contenders. DioGuardi built a business on digging up new talent; maybe she can coach some kids with potential into even better audition performances.

Sexual tension – If all else fails, she can flirt with Cowell and watch Ryan Seacrest go all Fatal Attraction on national TV. Because any woman tangles with that bromance at her own peril.

[Last modified: Wednesday, July 21, 2010 2:50pm]


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