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Five Ways to Fix American Idol

American Idol, Simon Cowell, Kara DioGuardi, Randy Jackson, Ellen Degeneres, Ryan Seacrest, Michael Becker / FOX

Simon Cowell is out. Is American Idol over?

Let's not go crazy. With Lee DeWyze's crowning last night, American Idol closed out the TV year as the No. 1 show. Again. Still.

But Cowell's departure is signficant. And there was a funny feeling—call it boredom—all season long at Idoldome. So before things do go crazy, let's unveil our five-step plan for fixing what's just a little bit broke.    

1. Hire Kate Gosselin: Go ask Dancing With the Stars if she's good for ratings. Go ask Jon Gosselin or Tony Dovolani if she's good for a critique. Just don't ask whether she'd be a distraction as a judge. Sometimes distractions are necessary. Like, when the contestants are a snooze. Speaking of which...

2. Go Glee: Show-tune singers never stood a chance with the Broadway-bashing Cowell. That was then, now it's time to embrace vocalists who know their way around the Sondheim songbook. We get why Cowell was hesitant—he is, after all, in the business of big. Then again, Glee ain't small, and the thrill of finding the next Lea Michele or Chris Colfer could be thrilling.

3. Scale backway backon the audition shows: You know how long it took us to Hollywood this year? One tedious month. You know how long it took in 2003? One whiz-bang week. If you're going to bore us, just get on with it. We may even end up not being bored.

4. Lose the judges' save—and pod-person Kara DioGuardi: Idol should have been so lucky to have Crystal Bowersox voted off in March, with no chance of  a reprieve. Fans would've cried foul. Kids would've started Facebook campaigns, instead of carrying the torch for Betty White. People would've cared. The fact is, the judges' save is yet another way the show has gotten in the way of its own lumbering self (see: the audition rounds). As for the Cowell-clinging, Casey James-fawning DioGuardi...We don't know who that woman is. But we'd like back the competent, grown-up songwriter whom you felt for because you suspected she loathed and/or envied the kids auditioning for the pop-star job she herself had inexplicably failed to land. 

5. Pull a Survivor: All-Stars: Has Kevin "Chicken Little" Covais improved with age? What if Megan Joy got one more shot? If you had the chance, would you vote for Nikki McKibbin over Tamyra Gray again? Just once, A.I., blow off the masses and limit your auditions to former semifinalists and finalists. Onetime Idol winners would be ineligible, but not onetime Oscar winners, which means, yes, Jennifer Hudson could show up with her statuette and clean house. Oh, yeah. When is that show gonna be on?

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Until American Idol takes us up on our all-stars idea, catch up on contestants past in our A.I.: Where Are They Now? gallery.

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