While we've been hearing for months about all of the very special guest judges who are taking on the audition rounds (from Neil Patrick Harris to Katy Perry and everyone in between), the looming question has been if anyone would take over the fourth seat vacated by Paula Abdul on a permanent basis. Well, we now have an answer: Yes, Ellen DeGeneres. Hiring the popular daytime talk show host and comedian instead of any of the music industy vets we had hoped for could be a stroke of genius -- or it could spell disaster for TV's top-rated program. We've weighed the pros and cons of Idol's newest judge.
Pro: She's not crazy
We loved Paula and her wacky nonsensical commentary, but it might be a refreshing change of pace to have someone who isn't sipping strange substances out of her Coca-Cola cup and slurring her speech attempting to give constructive criticism to the wannabes.
Con: She's not crazy
Paula's unpredictability was half of the fun of the show. Scholars could spend decades trying to figure out what she meant by certain comments. Having someone like Ellen might eliminate the wacky magic.
Pro: She likes to dance
Ellen's talk-show shtick is her lame dance moves, while we always enjoyed watching Paula sway obliviously along to the music like she wasn't actually working. We expect Ellen to continue in this grand tradition.
Con: She knows nothing about music
Ellen may have a DJ on her show and like to boogie, but she's not in the music industry at all. She's not a record producer or a former artist or even a Broadway star -- she's just a famous person with opinions and we've already got Randy (who is useless) and Kara (who is also useless) on the panel. Simon can't be the only one who actually gives honest and informed critiques.
Pro: She may finally put a stop to the weird gay comments between Simon and Seacrest Since she is out and proud, she might take offense to the annoying innuendo-filled banter between Simon and Ryan about who is really gay. We'd be thrilled if she was able to make that inanity end.
Con: We won't have to watch awkward flirting/fighting with Simon
Paula and Simon had one of the most bizarre relationships on television and that's something that Ellen won't be able to recreate. She's not interested in Simon sexually, so there won't be any tabloid fodder about a secret relationship, and there won't be that playful "I hate you" stuff going on, either, unless Ellen is able to channel her inner third grader.
Pro: She'll add some humor to the dull repetitiveness of Randy/Kara
We're hoping that she'll acknowledge her lack of music expertise and just go for the funny (like she did as a guest judge on So You Think You Can Dance last summer). Cracking jokes about costumes or her fellow judges or the particular theme of the week could lighten things up on the judging panel. And it will be better than just saying "pitchy" and "package artist" over and over again.
Con: Her comments will be irrelevant
Is anyone in America really going to give weight to Ellen's opinion over Simon's? Even if she tries to give a critique instead of making a funny remark, will she actually influence votes?
Pro: She's used to having a show and understands being succinct
Hopefully she'll be able to gather her thoughts (or her writers will help her pre-plan some jokes) so that she can deliver her line and not ramble on for 20 minutes, causing the live show to go way over schedule. She's a TV pro with ample hosting experience and is used to getting right to the point. Maybe she can even give Seacrest some tips.
Con: She might not be mean
Paula was always way, way too nice, but the last thing this judging panel really needs is another person to be sensitive to the talentless. Ellen might be afraid of hurting the feelings of the wannabes and resort to making a kind comment instead of using some biting wit to tell them what she really thinks. Can you imagine Kathy Griffin telling these contestants what they are doing wrong? That'd be awesome, and we just don't think Ellen has it in her.
Pro: She might help ratings
Clearly, the reason that producers hired her was because Ellen's a recognizable household name and will be able to use her daily talk show to pimp Idol. Not that the AI juggernaut is desperate, but it has been slipping in the ratings in recent years, so Ellen could potentially reinvigorate and grow its audience.
Con: She's not Paula
Sorry, Ellen, but Paula is forever our girl. Watching Idol without her would be like SYTYCD without Mary Murphy screaming. Mabye we'll eventually warm up to someone new, but it's going to be an awkward transition period until we get there.
What do you think about Ellen joining the Idol judges? Great idea, or major mistake? Leave your comments below.
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