By Chuck Ross
Sharon Osbourne, a judge on "America’s Got Talent" as well as a former judge on the hit British music talent show "The X Factor," and a former manager of a number of popular music bands, has shared with TVWeek her recommendations about what "American Idol" needs to do post-Simon Cowell.
Her rather shocking conclusion about the judges who are left on "Idol": "They need to get rid of the whole panel. It’s old, boring. They need to go and reinvent the show. There’s tough competition coming up on every channel. Really tough competition."
Coincidentally–or perhaps not–that’s the same thing Nigel Lythgoe told a reporter in April about the show. Lythgoe, a former executive producer and showrunner on "Idol" is said to be returning to the series. Osbourne said she knows Lythgoe "very well."
When Ellen DeGeneres was first named to be a judge on "Idol," Osbourne applauded the choice. Clearly, she’s now changed her mind.
A number of performers, from Elton John to Chris Isaak, have been rumored to replace Simon Cowell.
Osbourne likes that idea. "A performer can give great advice, and that performer understands what those contestants are going through. They’ve got to keep the judges between producers, performers, writers. They have to."
"Idol," she says, "was the best show on TV, but, unfortunately now the panel is boring."
What the producers must not do, she intones, is try to replace Simon by trying to get someone else to mimic his persona.
"They don’t need to," Osbourne says. "You can’t. You can’t fill his shoes. You can’t keep getting someone who’s Mr. Nasty and someone who’s Mrs. Nice" and someone who does musings such as Randy Jackson does. "You’ve got to go beyond that. That’s been done. To keep the show fresh they need to move from that.
"I think they need people with real credibility. They’ve got to find people that the public are invested in. That the public know. I don’t think they should be unknowns."
When the show started American viewers were not familiar with Cowell or Jackson, so why not go with unknowns once again?
To which Osbourne replied, "Yes, but the show built with them. As the show grew the public got invested in them. Unfortunately for the show and the network, they don’t have another 10 years to rebuild it. They’ve got to get in now."
Is joining ‘Idol’ as a regular judge–not just as a guest judge–something she’s ever wanted to do? "I do. What’s the difference to me whether I get paid to sit there or somewhere else?"
Since she believes all of the judges should be replaced, who, specifically, are some names Osbourne thinks ‘Idol’s" producers should contact to replace them?
Laughing, she says, "Let them do it. I’m not telling."
Separately, TMZ reports that "Jessica Simpson has had ‘several meetings’ with the brass at ‘American Idol’ in the hopes of taking over Simon Cowell’s judging duties … and sources involved tell TMZ there’s "mutual interest."