Ellen DeGeneres, One-Season Wonder - Macleans.ca

Ellen DeGeneres, One-Season Wonder


You may have heard that Ellen DeGeneres is leaving American Idol. This makes her a much-hyped addition to a long-running show, who came in, didn’t make that much of an impact, and was gone by the next season. I’m not saying Ellen DeGeneres is Poochie, but if one of the contestants had been a rapping surfer, I’m sure she’d have approved.

Okay, unlike the typical “Poochie,” Ellen is likable and famous and already has something she’s good at, which she will concentrate on. I don’t think she was exactly terrible on the show, but she wasn’t effective enough, and she would have been really ineffective if she’d been the most prominent judge on the panel. If she’d stayed on after Cowell left, she would have, almost by default, become the “star” of the judging panel, even though she wasn’t equipped to fill that role. So she has to be considered smart for getting out now; a year without Simon would tarnish her brand by either forcing her to be nastier (ruining the image she projects on her own show) or making her into a failure.

The buzz now is over whether Fox will respond to the defection of the big-star judges by replacing just the two of them, or by dumping Randy and Kara and starting over with an all-new panel. I personally think the all-new panel is the way to go, just for the defensive potential. That is, the ratings are sure to fall next season without Cowell. If they start fresh, they might do all right, but if they don’t, they can blame it all on the fact that they were rebooting the show with new people — an excuse they will not be able to use if they keep two of the same judges.

Update: Deadline Hollywood claims that her replacement will be Jennifer Lopez.

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Ellen DeGeneres, One-Season Wonder

  1. The problem isn't Ellen, although someone can only take so much of a talk show comedian being on other TV shows. It's that Idol is a terrible program stuffed full of nauseating American propaganda and TV cliches. The only thing worse is the Canadian Idol knock off with an even more slick host.

    • Obviously the millions of fans who watch the show, and have made it a huge hit for a decade, will disagree with your take, won't they.

      btw, you think Ben Mulroney is slick? Dorky comes to mind personally. But maybe that's just me.

  2. Overcoming the challenge of losing its biggest star is tough enough for any hit show. That leaves Randy Jackson as the only original judge left. He's still a commodity, and part of the show's brand along with Ryan Seacrest, so I wouldn't let him go. Nevertheless, they've added two judges since the beginning, Kara DioGuardi and Ellen DeGeneres, and I don't think either of them have been particularly wise choices. Jennifer Lopez? Seems more like a big name meant to generate buzz and hang onto viewers rather than a targeted selection, but I guess you never know.

    Unlike Law & Order, I don't think the judges on American Idol are easily replaceable or interchangeable. They need a combination of personality, smarts, and music knowledge that is unique. They're not fed lines. They need to come up with their own thoughts and words.

    So, with Cowell gone, and Abdul, the show will have a hard time sustaining its quality. After nine seasons, the gig might be finally over, nearing its end, or becoming a shadow of its former self.

    • Oh, and I just wanted to add another point about replacing judges. From what I've seen, America's Got Talent might have made a pretty good choice in selecting Howie Mandel to replace David Hasselhoff. So, it's not like it's impossible to do it right.

  3. If you look below American Idol right now you can clearly see the shark.

    • I think Ellen and the raft of ever-changing guest judges were the shark.

      Judges should be musicians (successful as idols themselves) or producers. Randy has never added anything to the show, dawg. Paula was a weird choice all along but I think her quirky, drug-addled personality won over the crowds.

      Worst guest judge was Posh Spice, who just commented on their fashion choices. Get some real idols and their producers in there for some cred and real advice.

      Not that I watch the show…hehehe

      • I think Randy does add a lot to the show. He knows the business, has a distinct personality, and has a perspective on performances that people want to hear. However, perhaps most importantly, he was the right kind of buffer between Simon and Paula. He sometimes sided with Simon in being harsh on performers, while also siding with Paula when Simon was over the top and out to lunch. Once Paula left, however, that dynamic left, too.

        Not that I watch the show or anything, too, heh heh…..

  4. According to TMZ, Idol is going back to a three judge panel. Kara is out, too. Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler, of all people, are in. Don't know TMZ's track record on this kind of stuff, though.

  5. Footnote request:

    Who is Poochie?

    • Poochie is a reference to a Simpsons episode where in response to declining ratings, the writers of Itchy and Scratchy brought in a third character, Poochie, a surfing, laid back dog with attitude. He is awful, made up of every cliche the writers could come up with. The whole episode is a commentary on shows trying to stay fresh by introducing a new character.