Why Did 'American Idol' Hire Kara DioGuardi?
Kara DioGuardi is the new American Idol judge.  She's a prolific songwriter, clearly a smart woman, and from everything I've heard, is up to the challenge.  The news hasn't appeared to resonate like I presumed it would.  I guess the appointment is a little too abstract at this point; no one has really seen Kara in person just yet, and no one knows how this is going to work (the judges included) until America views her at the judging table, interacting with the Terrible Trio.  If we can agree that it's currently impossible to say anything about how good Kara will be on American Idol, then there's just one thing to discuss: Why?  Why did the American Idol producers decide that now was the time to bring Kara DioGuardi into the fold, at the tail end of the nationwide auditions?

I listened in to a FOX conference call with Kara yesterday.  I was impressed by her candor, and think she'll be quite good on American Idol.  She has a matter-of-factness that should be appreciated by the audience.  Kara's going to tell the singers if they are bad, but unlike Simon, she'll be giving constructive criticism and won't bite the apple of humiliation that Simon munches on every episode.  One nugget of information from the call that I found telling was that Kara's hiring was really, really abrupt.  She was called in, talked to the producers, and that was that.  The American Idol brass knew Kara from before – she has written and produced songs for a number for Idol alums – but she didn't have any sort of try out, nor did she get a chance to interact with the judges before the hiring. 

So, again, why?  Has Paula been even further off her game during the auditions?  Did the Idol producers feel that they needed a back-up plan in case Paula completely imploded and had to be removed?  Simon Cowell has the most clout of any of the judges (and it's not close), so you know that he signed off on DioGuardi's addition.  Did he and Simon Fuller feel that current three-judge set up had become boring and stale?  Did Simon finally give up and say, “You know what, maybe it is Paula's time to go?”

Had this hiring occurred before the auditions began, there would be no need for conspiracy theories.  It would have been heralded as another needed change to the format in order to keep things exciting.  The timing, however, is the thing that perplexes me.  The thing I keep coming back to that makes the most sense is that Paula must be becoming a problem.  Why else would they so suddenly hire another woman, a woman who's clearly more intellectually sound than Paula, to sit down at the judges table in the middle of auditions?

Another possibility is that Simon Fuller and the other Idol producers got the sense that the three judges, as a group, were sleepwalking their way trough the proceedings, and needed a little jolt.  There's nothing like a little new blood to get old pros back on their game.  We probably won't know much more until American Idol premieres in January.  Until then, we can only speculate. 

-Oscar Dahl, BuddyTV Senior Writer
(Image Courtesy of FOX)