Dawg gone, it looks like Randy Jackson will exit from the “American Idol” judges’ table as it’s been long rumored he would. The story is now indeed supported by TMZ. The website says that Jackson, the only “Idol” cast member other than host Ryan Seacrest to have an on-air role since season one, will transition to a mentor role in season 12. Though it’s not official yet it appears we won’t be seeing the “dawg” no more.
It was “American Idol” that propelled Jackson into the mainstream.
Jackson has since expanded into television production, setting up his Dream Merchant 21 Entertainment banner at Warner Horizon Television and launching the hit reality-competition series “Randy Jackson Presents: America’s Best Dance Crew,” which recently completed its fifth season.
With Jackson gone, that means the show’s original three judges – Paula Abdul, Simon Cowell, and now Mr. Jackson – have left American Idol.
How much does it matter who the judges are? After all, the show has cycled through plenty of them over the years.
One could make the case that Jackson’s exit could benefit the show. Many longtime fans could fairly well predict by now what he would say. Fresh judges, fresh insights?
In any case, American Idol may be ready for a major makeover. Last year’s season finale, with Jessica Sanchez vs. Phil Phillips, had the smallest audience of any American Idol finale; even smaller than the first American Idol finale which aired in the slower summer months. Season 11’s finale got just 21.5 million viewers. The biggest viewership for an American Idol finale was 38.1 million in 2003.
American Idol remains a cash cow for Fox. It pulls in about $500,000 for a 30-second commercial, and it remains one of the biggest draws on TV, despite a decline in audience in recent years. But few blame the cast of judges as responsible for the decline. Most observers say the ebb is a result of a combination of audience fatigue and the rise of copycat competition, especially, the arrival of Simon Cowell’s “X-Factor” and NBC’s “The Voice.”
Advertisers note a decline in the coveted demographic audience of 18-49 year olds. This past year, American Idol had an average of 7.5 million in that demographic. “The Voice,” is now nipping at the heels of Idol with 7.2 million viewers in that demographic on a typical night, notes The New York Times.
With Randy, Jennifer Lopez, and Steven Tyler all exiting this year, who will judge the contestants? Who’s going to be sitting through the American Idol auditions, choosing the next cast, and taking Randy’s seat at the judges’ table?
So far, only singer-songwriter Mariah Carey has signed on for Season 12. Niki Minaj and country signer Keith Urban are close to signing contracts, says Billboard. And Nick Jonas, of the Jonas Brothers, could become the fourth judge. If this is the panel, it would certainly represent an eclectic mix of experience and music genres.
Jackson was expected to remain with the Fox show that’s been home to him for more than a decade in part because he co-manages new judge Mariah Carey.
Reps for Jackson and the show have yet to respond to The Hollywood Reporter’s request for comment.
TMZ sources as with Billboard also indicate the Minaj deal is “99% done” despite a reported beef between the rapper and Carey. The gossip site says Carey “doesn’t want her at the table … a fact producers LOVE because they think the conflict and tension will be good for the show.”
It has also been confirmed that Nick Jonas is under consideration to become a judge. Earlier this month the youngest Jonas brother tweeted, “The rumors are true… I am being considered to be a judge on American Idol, and it would be a-dream-come true if it happens.”
In the absence of the “dawg” once question remains: Will new judges alone create enough buzz, drama, or insight to breathe new life into the “American Idol” franchise?