The judges' panel on "American Idol" used to be something you could always count on, like death, taxes and the New York Mets collapsing in September. But in the past year, the table that stands between the contestants and their dreams has been a torrent of personnel changes. Last season saw the addition of Kara DioGuardi, followed by the departure of Paula Abdul and the entrance of Ellen DeGeneres. Now comes the real bombshell: Simon Cowell has formally announced that the new season of "American Idol" — which premieres Tuesday night — will be his last so that he can focus on "X-Factor."
That leaves DeGeneres, DioGuardi and now-veteran judge Randy Jackson. While Abdul will be missed for her positive attitude and his loopiness, Cowell is the alpha-dog of that show. He's the wind that blows the sails and the rudder that steers the ship (even if it seems like he's sort of been phoning it in for the past two seasons). The show plans to replace Cowell, but with whom? We put our collective "Idol" brains together and came up with a few good ideas (and some not so good ones).
Pros: He's one of the biggest names in the music industry and would bring a tremendous amount of gravitas to the role. Davis has seen just about everything in his multi-decade career, and he will call'em as he sees'em.
Cons: At his age, he doesn't fit in with the rest of the panel. Plus, he's a busy guy and would probably never take the job anyway.
Pros: The Interscope head has had the requisite success in the music biz and is able to recognize talent. Plus, he has a take-no-prisoners approach to judging people.
Cons: The dude is already unspeakably rich, so it seems like there isn't an offer that Fox could make that would make sense to him, especially considering the time commitment. Plus, for the guy who ushered along the careers of Eminem and 50 Cent, "Idol" seems a little soft.
Pros: Madonna manager and Maverick Records co-founder Oseary is a dynamic personality who knows talent when he sees it. His success with all different types of music (from Alanis Morissette to Prodigy to Michelle Branch) would make his opinions that much more well-rounded.
Cons: He's not as well-known as some of the other ideas on this list. Plus, his film projects would probably keep him distracted.
Antonio "L.A." Reid
Pros: He's another industry veteran with a crackling personality.
Cons: Again, it would take an awful lot to distract him from his already busy gig as chairman of Island/Def Jam.
Pros: The Rolling Stone contributing editor and Fuse TV host certainly has the experience and the critical knowledge, and his ability to cut to the heart of performances would make him an ideal candidate.
Cons: Despite his time on CNN and MSNBC, he's something of an unknown. And despite Cowell's prickly outlook, Touré may be too acerbic for the "Idol" crowd.
Pros: He was one of the most beloved and enthusiastic guest judges, and he's obviously got charisma to spare.
Cons: The dude is about to be nominated for a handful of Oscars for his 2009 film "Inglourious Basterds," so it seems unlikely that Q-Teezy would let himself be distracted. Plus, with him and DeGeneres on the same panel, it might look a little star-heavy.
Pros: He's an excellent musician and a thoughtful, funny judge of talent (which was made clear on his stint on "The Sing Off").
Cons: He's not as big a name as some of the other people who might be available. And we'd prefer he just keep making smart, sweet pop records.
Pros: Rumors already have him on his way to Fox, so maybe they'll offer him a package deal?
Cons: He lacks the experience necessary to properly judge singing talent (though they said the same thing about him when he first booked "The Late Show").
Pros: He's a phenomenally successful singer who can bridge the gap between Cowell's cut-to-the-quick judgments and Abdul's spaciness.
Cons: This would be a pretty profound left-hand turn for the show, veering dangerously into schlocky territory.
Pros: He's an angry man of English bearing. Just like Simon!
Cons: He'd probably have a hard time coming up with opinions on things that don't involve truffle oil.