I confess I don't know what to make of all this fuss about who the next judges on American Idol will be. Replacing Simon Cowell seems like an impossible seat to fill (though I can't say the same about Kara Dioguardi or Ellen DeGeneres).
With all the names being bandied about, I decided to check in with an esteemed panel of producers, songwriters and my Broadway star buddy, ex-Idol sensation Constantine Maroulis, for their take on some of the more prominent unconfirmed names: Jennifer Lopez, Steven Tyler, Jessica Simpson, Elton John, Harry Connick Jr. and Courtney Love (heck, with her you'd only need one judge and could tape twelve hours a day!).
CONSTANTINE MAROULIS (Idol Season Four Finalist, star of Rock of Ages on Broadway)
JENNIFER LOPEZ: I think it's a great idea. She is hugely famous. She's starting to work across all of the different platforms –television to film to making records to being a dancer to being a fashion icon. She's done all of the above. She is Jenny from the block after all!
STEVEN TYLER: I'm the hugest Aerosmith fan. I sang their song for my audition song at American Idol. He's an incredible singer, he's a technical singer. He's the type of singer who's not just a rockstar, he works at his craft. And he's been through it all.
JESSICA SIMPSON: Jess is young and hip, and like J. Lo, she's a worldwide famous icon, pop icon. She's an incredible singer, too!
HARRY CONNICK JR.: He represents a part of this show that I think they've moved past a little bit — the old-fashion, jazzy kind of songs and all that. He served as a really good mentor on the show last season. He's super articulate, and I know because he's got that New Orleans attitude.
ELTON JOHN: Obviously that would be amazing if they could get him. I just don't see it happening. Its a humongous commitment. He's Elton John! He's got nothing to prove to anybody. And he could probably be a bit nasty if he wants to be.
COURTNEY LOVE: She would be cool. She's controversial, she is a rock goddess. She had some big records on her own and with Hole and her solo stuff. She would not be afraid to be mean and I think she would just let it rip.
CHRISTOPHER "TRICKY" STEWART (Songwriter/producer; hits include Beyonce's "Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It)" and Rihanna's "Umbrella")
JENNIFER LOPEZ: Jennifer would be great because she's seen the business from a lot of different aspects. She's a performer, she's obviously an overall entertainer, so she understands performance, charisma and all the different things that go into making a great artist.
STEVEN TYLER: Steven would be good, too, because obviously he'd bring so much credibility being in Aerosmith and coming from a band culture.
JESSICA SIMPSON: I don't think she would be a good fit at all. I don't think she has the credentials or the credits to be judging the talent of the next big star. She just doesn't stack up.
ELTON JOHN: You can't go wrong with Elton John. You have star power, you have charisma, you have credibility, you have musicianship, you have everything possibly that could be right. He pulls it all together.
HARRY CONNICK JR: He might take everything too seriously. He's a very serious guy. Maybe he could bring some of his acting charisma from the other side of his career and actually be fun, but just my initial thought as a musician, he seems too serious to be a judge.
COURTNEY LOVE: I don't think she would be great for the show. I think that the audience for the show has a broader demographic than that and I think the people they should really consider should be artists and performers or talents that meet in the middle, someone that bridges everyone's tastes.
HARVEY MASON JR. (songwriter/producer; has worked with Britney Spears, Justin Timberlake and Leona Lewis)
JENNIFER LOPEZ: Jennifer would be a great judge. She is a great performer and has had a great career.
STEVEN TYLER: He's legendary and has a legacy and he comes with respect. He's been doing this for so many years and at such a high level. He automatically inspires controversy and has been through so much, so his approach might be a con to buttoned up folk, but truly I don't see many cons.
JESSICA SIMPSON: The public knows her, they are familiar with her — they would accept her in the living room as someone in the know. If she can show people how to get to where she is, they're going to listen.
ELTON JOHN and HARRY CONNICK JR.: They're interesting because they are singer-songwriters. They bring a different perspective they are all around artists. They write their materials, great performers and great vocalists. That would add another twist to being a judge.
MAKEBA RIDDICK (singer/songwriter/vocal producer; has worked with Jennifer Lopez, Mariah Carey and Eminem)
JENNIFER LOPEZ: I worked with her before and I know she is such an entertainer and performer and all about showmanship. She would be an awesome judge. She is a big pop star. I don't know if that would detract from people trying to become what she is.
STEVEN TYLER: He's a rock star. And his star power is so heavy. I don't even know if the contestants would even be able to function with him looking on! He is such a rock star and I am wondering how that would make the contestants feel. I give him somewhere in the middle -– maybe 50% chance of getting on. There would be some camaraderie with him being a judge with Jennifer Lopez. I would love to see their rapport.
JESSICA SIMPSON: I think that she is still building her career as a pop star. She's had great success as a pop star, but I think she is still building her brand. I don't know if the contestants and audience would take her seriously because she is still building her brand.
ELTON JOHN: Wow, what a legend, what an icon to have judging you as a budding artist! He would be a great candidate because he knows music so well. I think the advice will be priceless.
HARRY CONNICK JR.: He is soft spoken and mild mannered. I think the knowledge he would offer on performance and showmanship would be great as well. I think that his information would just come from a whole different place on performing. I think he has a high place on becoming a judge.
COURTNEY LOVE: She's a performer, singer, songwriter…I definitely think she would bring an element of fun to the judging process. I would love to see how her personality would gel with any one of those other contenders. I think it definitely would be fun to have her on the panel, but I just don't know how her personality would work with the other judges. She is sort of free spirited, off the cuff.
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