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Tom Joyner and Roland Martin ask me: Will American Idol hire Aretha Franklin as its next judge?



aretha-franklin-02.jpgTom Joyner and Roland Martin may have put me on the bad side of the Queen of Soul.

At least, that's the possible outcome of our conversation this morning, when CNN analyst, TV One anchor and Tom Joyner Morning Show contributor Martin brought me onto his segment to talk about soul legend Aretha Franklin's stated desire to join the judging panel on American Idol.

When news broke that judges Steven Tyler and Jennifer Lopez were leaving American Idol, Martin sent an email to Franklin who replied that she was interested in joining the show and would love to bring along her pal, Patti Labelle. He also said this morning that Franklin has responded strongly to those who suggested she has no young fan base or might have problems because she resists flying.

I had the unenviable task of bringing up show business reality: Idol's biggest problem right now is that its audience is aging. Despite being the country's top non-sports program, its audience among viewers advertisers pay to reach, those aged 18 to 49, is close to that of NBC upstart, The Voice.

Idol's recent pattern has been to cast at least one female judge as a sex symbol -- from Jennifer Lopez to Kara DioGuardi to Paula Abdul -- and another as the eccentric comedy relief (Ellen DeGeneres, Steven Tyler and current judge Randy Jackson). Assuming they stick with the formula, one recent name rumored in contention, Mariah Carey, could be both sexpot and eccentric.

Producer Nigel Lythgoe recently suggested the show could feature judges in one-year stints, which makes a lot of sense to me. It's probably easier to pitch big stars on a one-year commitment versus a job which could last as long as Jackson's gig (as the last original judge, he's been on the show 11 years; wonder what that is in "dawg" years?)

Still, seems like it would be tough for a youth-oriented network like Fox to present the 70-year-old Franklin as a mainline judge, rather than a mentor or guest.

I just hope the Queen doesn't hold it against me.

Click here to check out that audio, which features some hilarious stuff from Joyner and his crew. 


[Last modified: Tuesday, July 17, 2012 1:43pm]


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