Celebrities as Judges on 'Idol': Good or Bad Idea?
By Rob Shuter Posted Sep 16th 2010 03:00PM
Jennifer Lopez might have 12 million good rea$ons to celebrate signing on to replace Simon Cowell (or is she replacing Kara? Or Ellen?) on 'American Idol,' I'm hearing from friends and insiders that think it's a baaaad idea.
"Why would you want to pay someone who hasn't been able to sell that many records to replace Simon," a friend of the tough Brit tells me. "You would think after the Ellen mistake 'Idol''s producers would have learned their lesson and instead look for someone unknown in the industry rather than a celebrity."
It does seem odd that 'Idol' is putting its future success in the hands of a celebrity that America has semi-rejected over the past few years. However, after relatively unknown industry judge, Kara, proved to be a disaster it seems there is no proven strategy that is guaranteed to return the show to the powerhouse it once was.
"The producers looked for the quick easy fix," one TV executive tells me. "Throwing money at a celebrity is the easy answer. It's also the lazy way to solve a problem."
The problem with the hire-a-celebrity strategy is that you're creating a situation where the people behind the judge's table are more interesting to watch than the actual contestants. That happened in reverse with Simon, who was pretty unknown before the show but almost instantly became the best part of it.
"How is some sweet unknown waitress from Ohio with a great voice waiting to become the next American Idol going to compete with the publicity machine of J.Lo?" my TV exec asks. "She's not. The only way the show will work again is when they stop focusing on the judges and focus again on the contestants."
I hope you're listening 'American Idol.'
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