Comedienne/talk show host Ellen DeGeneres has been named the replacement for departing judge Paula Abdul on the upcoming season of the popular vocal talent show American Idol.
Abdul was commonly viewed as "the people's judge"; the one who exhibited empathy and a word or two of encouragement to contestants on the show at times when her fellow panelists would not deign to. Not that musician/producer Randy Jackson or label executive Simon Cowell--or successful songwriter Kara DioGuardi, whose arrival upped the number of judges to four last season--were off the mark that frequently. No, they were a lot more frank and realistic about a particular contestant's chances than Abdul routinely showed herself to be. The fact that she had less music biz stature than Cowell or Jackson did not seem to be that big a deal.
Hey, at least she'd been a pop star, even if it was for a minute.
As a non-musical artist or executive, DeGeneres has even less industry clout. In fact, she has none. So, why is she a judge?
Because the show's producers are obviously going for the "average Joe" p.o.v. and pushing it even further than it had been the case with Abdul by hiring someone with no musical training, or formal music biz experience of any kind. DeGeneres may be childless in her private life, but Idol's producers have obviously hired her to be the "mommy" and further coddle the mediocre hopefuls. Ah, yes: yet another reason for us not to watch the show. As if we needed any.
(Although the deluded, tone-deaf, not-good-enough-for-karaoke, losers who try out early on are always a delight to see crash and burn.)