It’s been less than a day since Simon Cowell announced he’d be leaving “American Idol” to focus on the U.S. launch of his other talent show, “The X Factor,” but speculation has already begun about how the show’s producers intend to replace him.
Or, more specifically, who they’ll replace him with.
Make no mistake about it, filling Cowell’s chair will be a tall order indeed, which is why most seem to be agreement that whomever is hired to do it needs to be a very big name. But that’s only half of it — the new “Idol” judge will also need to know their stuff, be able to know a hit when they hear one, and, perhaps most importantly, be willing to get nasty if necessary. That was, after all, one of Cowell’s most endearing traits.
So who should get the call?
“Someone who can do what Simon does, but, at the same time, someone who’s not an obvious replacement for him. You don’t want someone who’s going to remind viewers how much they miss Simon,” Entertainment Weekly senior writer Michael Slezak said. “They’ve got to be smart about music and they’ve got to be sort of tough and brutally honest, but they also have to be telegenic and be comfortable up there on live television. I think somebody like a Pharrell Williams or a Linda Perry would be great, because they’ve got performing experience, but they’re also perfectionists. They understand what it takes to make a hit record on a serious level.”
“They need to cast another marquee name, not some A&R guy from England who nobody knows,” MJ Santilli, of MJsBigBlog added. “I think they’ll cast a name, but somebody who’s critical, because that’s his role. I’ve heard [“America’s Got Talent” judge] Piers Morgan, but someone like Hugh Jackman would be a great fit too, if he’s willing to be critical. … I don’t know if he’d do it though.”
And while Jackman would probably make an excellent “Idol” judge, hiring him would definitely be a stretch. Of course, the same goes for another name that keeps popping up in the comments of our Cowell stories: Kanye West.
“I think Kanye would make an awesome replacement, because it would be drama all the time,” MTV.com user Namanh wrote.
“+1 vote for Kanye in this role,” a user named Tommie added. “Fox will need someone with a reputation for brutal honesty.”
Other big-name suggestions offered up by readers included Fox News pundit Bill O’Reilly, former Alaska Governor (and recent Fox News hire) Sarah Palin and famed producer Mutt Lange.
Of course, it’s entirely possible that the show doesn’t need to replace Cowell at all. In fact, there are some — like MTV News’ “American Idol” expert Jim Cantiello — who think they should just go ahead and pull the plug after the acerbic Brit leaves at the conclusion of the ninth season. As he wrote in a Newsroom post on Monday, “For me — and I imagine a lot of viewers — “American Idol” is synonymous with Simon. No one can replace him. So [producers] shouldn’t.”
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