Curtain raised: Judges change at new "American Idol"

15:25, January 11, 2010      

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American Idol judges (from L-R) Randy Jackson, Paula Abdul and Simon Cowell sit at the "Idol Gives Back" show at the Kodak theatre in Hollywood, California April 6, 2008. (Xinhua/Agencies Photo)

The new season of "American Idol" will kick off Tuesday and people are making speculations on this smash-hit live show, particularly on the judges.

Since the end of the last season, the producers have made one of the show's biggest changes of choosing judges.

Paula Abdul, who since the show's beginning had nurtured contestants and played the role of nice judge to Simon Cowell's mean one, is gone, replaced by Ellen DeGeneres, the talk-show host and comic.

And guest judges -- including Victoria Beckham, Avril Lavigne and Katy Perry -- will appear at the judges' table during the audition episodes.

If the addition last season of a fourth judge, Kara DioGuardi, upset the balance that gave the "Idol" judging panel an air of predictability, the arrival of DeGeneres is likely to be even more disruptive, not least because she might have a wit sharp enough to puncture the pontifications that often emanate from Cowell.

Simon Cowell's future too is in question. Last month his brother, a British radio journalist, reported that Cowell had decided to leave after this season, something that Cowell himself has not dispute.

Randy Jackson, the other judge who has been with the series since its beginning, said that all the chatter about whether Cowell would stay or go has been, at least, bothersome.

"In terms of the show I'm pretty sure it's a distraction," he told reporters in a conference call on Friday. "The rumors get so wild and crazy, I don’t know what to believe."

Last year an average of 25 million people watched each episode of "American Idol," according to Nielsen, down from 26.7 million a year earlier. That was the third straight year of decline, since the average audience peaked above 30 million in the fifth season.

Source: Xinhuanet/Agencies
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