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'American Idol' running on fumes

Time for 'Idol' to go away and make room for the next media phenomena

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Steve Adubato
Media analyst

So what’s the deal with “American Idol,” particularly now that LaKisha, who seemed to be the most talented singer, has been voted off?  Where does the show go at this point, particularly when the three contestants who remain standing—Melinda, Jordin and Blake—don’t generate any special interest or any real controversy, which, let’s face it, is mostly what “American Idol” is about.  We don’t have Sanjaya to kick around any more.  We’ve already accepted the fact that Paula has been out to lunch for so long that when she acts coherent and normal, that’s the part that’s shocking.

As for American Idol’s most enduring and interesting character, Simon Cowell, he is looking pretty bored to me.  Recently he said that there are many times when contestants are singing that he is engaged in conversation with Paula, basically teasing her or prodding her to say something stupid.  Translation?  We have “American’s Idol’s” most interesting and prominent judge who is not that interested in the proceedings. 

But Simon’s not alone.  Let’s be honest, “American Idol” has had an incredible run.  Right up until this year, my wife Jennifer and I, along with tens of millions of American viewers, made it appointment television.  We had to be there, not only for the performance, but to find out who was getting voted off.  There was real drama; it was exciting; it was intense. 

But now American Idol seems to be going out of its way to generate false controversy or make the show interesting in a really odd sort of way.  I think the show “jumped the shark” for me when Simon and host Ryan Seacrest started going back and forth with these idiotic comments about who was “coming out” (of the closet, I presume) and who liked to dress up in certain clothes that were less than masculine. 

So let me get this straight.  “American Idol” producers, along with Cowell and Seacrest, decided that it would be interesting to play off some of the rumors out there that Ryan Seacrest is gay or that Ryan might say that Simon is gay even if he isn’t?  I couldn’t figure the angle out.  It was so lame.  At least when Paula allegedly slept with a contestant a while back, it had some legs to it.  You could believe it.  I don’t know if it happened or not, but it was kind of interesting.  This recent stuff is weak at best. 

Any time a show, even one as popular as “American Idol,” starts going out of its way to generate bogus controversy, you know that it’s struggling to remain relevant.  Recently the Houston Chronicle blasted the show saying that “Melinda Doolittle is a background singer, Jordin Sparks is only 17, Blake Lewis beat-boxes and LaKisha Jones has a kid.”  While I’m still not sure why LaKisha having a kid or Jordin being 17 are supposed to be some sort of criticisms, there is a legitimate point being made here.  It’s that the performers are pretty good singers, but they aren’t that interesting or engaging.  They don’t stand out. 

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