This upcoming ninth season of FOX’s mega hit and cultural touchstone, American Idol, will be the last that viewers will see the smirking face of its top judge, Simon Cowell. The snarky Brit is citing irreconcilable differences with FOX; Idol’s production company FreemantleMedia, and 19 Entertainment for the split. Even better, he’s got his own talent show in the works on a rival network in an attempt to kill the beast he helped birth. Cowell will attempt to repeat his formula of bringing a British import and Americanizing it with The X-Factor. In Britain, The X-Factor bills itself as the UK’s biggest talent search. If Simon is successful, he could very well make the United States’ version of the show as big a hit as Idol.
Cowell isn’t the first judge to walk away from Idol. This season, Paula Abdul has been replaced by another likeable female judge, Ellen DeGeneres. It seems that Idol has been reinforcing itself for some time, bracing itself for Paula’s departure, which had been rumored for several years, by bringing in another female judge last season with Kara DioGuardi, upping the number of judges from three to four.
Now that the question of “why” Simon is preparing to depart from American Idol has been answered, the real question remains: Will Idol be worth watching without him? Will the show crumble under the weight of a thousand “dawgs” and heaps of undeserved praise on contestants who could use a dose of criticism? Will any of the judges step up and avoid playing nicey-nicey with the aspiring singers? Who’s going to give brutal, yet usually constructive criticism?
Fans can get their last, solid-season’s worth dose of Simon in all his vitriolic glory beginning Tuesday January 12 when the ninth season premiere of American Idol airs on FOX.
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