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People Who Could Fill Simon Cowell’s Chair on <I>American Idol</I>

Well, he's been talking about it for years, but it's finally happening... Simon Cowell is leaving American Idol, which means that after the current season (which begins tonight), not one, but two of the original judges will be gone. Paula Abdul's seat has been filled by Ellen DeGeneres (how she'll fare remains to be seen), but the show has always revolved around Simon's cutting remarks and candid criticisms, so replacing him will be a much larger task. We've come up with some people who might be up for the job, or at least could be entertaining to watch while we wait for The X Factor to premiere.

David Hasselhoff
He just quit his job on America's Got Talent, and while he's not the meanest judge in the world, he does tell people when they have no marketable skills. And just think about how big the show would suddenly be in Germany.

Piers Morgan
He's almost as grouchy as Simon, and he's not only judged America's Got Talent, but also won Celebrity Apprentice by being rude and merciless. And he actually knows about the business of appealing to the masses, so he might be a good pick.

Sharon Osbourne
Yes, it seems ridiculous to suggest just transferring three America's Got Talent judges to Idol, but despite the preposterous nature of that series, Osbourne is actually great as a judge. She's sweet when called for, but she's also blatantly honest when someone sucks (Charm School, anyone?). Idol could use that attitude, and we'd love to see an Ozzy night.

Gordon Ramsay
Sure he doesn't know anything about music (we don't think), but he does have the temperament needed to critique the talentless. Not sure that the Fox censors could keep up with his foul-mouthed rants during a live feed, though, so there might need to be some sort of a tape delay.

Rosie O'Donnell
She's an avid fan of pop music and wouldn't suffer the too-nice or too-silly problem that we fear Ellen DeGeneres is going to have. Rosie's nothing if not blunt -- remember when her outspoken rants got her kicked off The View? -- and with her debate skills, she might eat Randy and Kara alive for being too stupid.

Gene Simmons
Not only did he produce mainstream rock music that became insanely popular simply because he and his bandmates wore cakes of makeup, but he also dated Cher and Diana Ross. So he's got to know a thing or two about music -- more so than someone who played back-up bass guitar for Journey. He also has his own reality series where he's shown just how obstinate he can be. And he already performed on last season's Idol finale, so in theory he's familiar with the kind of talent the show offers.

Dave Holmes
He became famous from a reality show (Wanna Be a VJ) and, like Clay Aiken and Adam Lambert, knows what it's like to be the more worthy runner-up. (We're still bitter about the whole Jesse Camp national nightmare.) Plus, he's got a vast knowledge of music... which might actually be a useful thing to have on a show like Idol.

Russell Brand
He's British, so there's that. But if this show can't find someone who is biting and mean, they could at least have the decency to find a comedian who makes mean and sarcastic jokes. Plus, he's supposedly marrying Katy Perry, and she somehow knows how to write infectious hits that seep into the American culture. He can always ask her for her musical expertise, such as it is.

Ricky Gervais
He's a dry-witted British comedian who would have no trouble making acerbic remarks when called for. He's used to poking fun at celebrities, not idealistic kids, but we think he'd adapt. Our biggest fear is that his humor would fly over the heads of the majority of Americans.

Sean "Diddy" Combs
He's already done Making the Band a million times and knows how to find young talent and mold it into something sellable. Actually, if he doesn't go on Idol, he might actually be great on The X-Factor as a mentor, though we see no real reason he couldn't do both.

Donald Trump
Well, he does have a blunt way of telling people they aren't good enough, though he'd need to come up with something other than his signature sound bite for this one. Maybe "You're tone deaf!" followed by covering his ears? It also might be nice for him to actually be on the number one show, instead of just claiming he is.

JC Chasez
Have you seen this former 'N Sync-er on America's Best Dance Crew? He's nothing if not mean. In fact it seems like he's taking his bitterness about being one of the less famous members of his old band out on the poor dancers. On Idol, he could turn his anger towards the singers. And he could tell them all "Bye, bye, bye" when they leave, natch.

Kathy Griffin
If they decide to go the comedian route, why not Kathy? This is a woman who can't help but say what is on her mind. Though she might deter celebrities from wanting to come mentor the kids or raise money for Idol Gives Back. And, like Ramsay, she'd give the censors a run for their money.

Lil' Kim
Did you see The Pussycat Dolls Present? OK, probably not. But Lil' Kim was awesome as a judge on that show. She was honest and straightforward and actually gave some insightful comments about the girls' scantily clad performances. Not sure what she'll do when people have clothes on, but at the very least we'd love to see what she wears each week.

Elton John
Total diva? Check. Known for wearing iconic fashions? Check... though his glasses and suits are more flashy than Simon's plain tees. Can be bitchy when necessary? Check. Willingness to engage in gay banter with Seacrest? Check. Sounds like we might have a winner.

Your suggestions for a Simon sub? Leave 'em below. Then find out what exactly The X-Factor is all about.

Watch TWoP's editors discuss American Idol and The X Factor in this segment airing on the New York Nonstop cable news channel:

View more news videos at: http://www.nbcnewyork.com/video.

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