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Kara DioGuardi joining Fox's 'American Idol' as new fourth judge


By Steve Rogers, 08/25/2008 

After seven seasons, American Idol is getting a new judge.  Fox has announced Grammy-nominated songwriter and former The One: Making a Music Star judge Kara DioGuardi will serve as Idol's new fourth judge and join Paula Abdul, Simon Cowell and Randy Jackson as a regular member of the show's eighth-season judging panel.

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"We are turning the heat up on Idol this year and are thrilled to welcome Kara to the judges' table," Idol creator and executive producer Simon Fuller said.  "She is a smart, sassy lady, and one of America's most successful songwriters.  We know she will bring a new level of energy and excitement to the show."

Pop Idol, the since-canceled British reality competition American Idol was based on, featured four judges (one of whom was Cowell) during both its seasons, which aired in 2002 and 2003. DioGuardi's addition represents the completion of a similar plan for American Idol, according to the show's producers.

"We had originally intended for American Idol to have four judges," said Idol executive producer Cecile Frot-Coutaz.  "We've seen from our international series that having a fourth judge creates a dynamic that benefits both the contestants and the viewers."

DioGuardi's addition isn't the first time that Idol has attempted to add a fourth permanent judge.

Back in 2002, the show had announced that New York radio personality and recording artist Angie Martinez would join Abdul, Cowell and Jackson as a member of the show's second-season judging panel, however Martinez quit after only five days of auditions

"[It was] too uncomfortable for me to tell someone else to give up on their dream, especially when I realized that many of them have supported my musical career," Martinez -- who later admitted she wasn't very familiar with the show and had never seen Idol's first season -- said in a statement issued at the time.

Martinez was not replaced and American Idol's second-season judging panel ended up featuring only Abdul, Cowell and Jackson.

It currently remains unknown whether the same method will be used this time around, however back in 2002, Cowell had stated that his vote would act as the tiebreaker to resolve any 2-2 tie votes that resulted from Martinez's addition to the judging panel.

"I think they've recognized that I'm probably the only one who should have a final vote," Cowell said at the time.

In 2003, Pete Waterman -- another original Pop Idol judge -- was reportedly "in talks" to join American Idol as a fourth judge for the show's third season, however no deal was ever announced and Idol continued to retain its three-judge format, excluding occasional guest judges.

According to Fox reality chief Mike Darnell, DioGuardi's addition represents a victory of sorts for Abdul.

"For the past seven seasons, Paula has had to endure the experience of being the only woman at the judges' table," said Darnell.  "She's been as an island of consideration and gentle criticism between Randy and Simon, offering her invaluable expertise as a performer and No. 1 artist to the thousands who have competed on American Idol.  With Kara by her side, Paula finally has some back-up and now there is going to be a lot more 'girl power' on the show."

DioGuardi's songs have appeared on more than 100 million records.  Her songs have been recorded by Grammy award-winning artists including Christina Aguilera, Gwen Stefani, Celine Dion, Faith Hill, Santana, Pink and Idol winners Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood.

DioGuardi has also written or co-written several songs that have been performed and released by Idol finalists, including "Walk Away" with Clarkson, "Real Thing" for Bo Bice, "The Way" with Clay Aiken, and additional songs with Katharine McPhee and Taylor Hicks.  DioGuardi also writing or co-writing material for David Cook and David Archuleta's upcoming debut albums.

In addition, scores of major recording artists -- including Britney Spears, Avril Lavigne, Pussycat Dolls, Miley Cyrus, The Jonas Brothers, Natasha Bedingfield, Jewel, Ashley Tisdale, Ashlee Simpson, Hilary Duff, Jessica Simpson, Kylie Minogue, Enrique Iglesias, Nick Lachey and Marc Anthony -- have also released DioGuardi's songs.

The One -- an adaptation of Operacisn Triunfo, the smash-hit Spanish reality singing competition that premiered around the same time as Pop Idol debuted in Britian -- aired on ABC in Summer 2006. 

Unlike IdolThe One -- like all other Operacisn Triunfo adaptations -- focused just as much on the contestants' behind-the-scenes activities as their on-stage singing performances, including the cast's participation in a boarding school-like music academy where they received training and instruction from a staff that included DioGuardi and the show's other two judges.

However despite high production values that included a slick studio set and high-definition broadcasts, ABC canceled The One -- which was produced by Endemol, the reality TV powerhouse behind numerous reality shows including Big Brother, Fear Factor, and Extreme Makeover: Home Edition -- due to extremely poor ratings after only two weeks. 

Nine of The One's eleven finalists still remained in the competition at the time of the show's abrupt cancellation, including Syesha Mercado, who subsequently finished third on American Idol's seventh season.

(Photo credit Fox)


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