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August 25, 2008

'American Idol' adds fourth judge

Kara_3Simon, Paula, Randy and ... Kara.

Continuing to make good on its promise to shake up "American Idol" next season, Fox announced Monday that songwriter/music producer Kara DioGuardi has joined the reality hit as a fourth judge.

"We are turning the heat up on 'Idol' this year and are thrilled to welcome Kara to the judges' table," creator/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."

On a conference call with reporters Monday, DioGuardi said she will look for "artistry not just karaoke" when judging "Idol" contestants.

"What makes an artist is somebody who's unique, when their song comes on radio I know exactly who it is," she says. "It's not about vocal acrobatics."

Fox and "Idol" producers have promised to shake up "Idol" for its upcoming eighth season after this year's slight ratings decrease. Earlier this month, longtime executive producer Nigel Lythgoe exited the show.

Fox has assured that any changes would not involve removing one of three original judges. But adding a fourth judge to a format that's been successful with only three allows Fox to potentially make cuts should DioGuardi prove popular. Abdul was quoted Monday as being "concerned" about the hire. DioGuardi told reporters Abdul's comment was understandable -- "she's just pondering what could or could not happen like anybody would."

"For the past seven seasons, Paula has had to endure the experience of being the only woman at the judges' table," said Fox president of alternative Mike Darnell. "With Kara by her side, Paula finally has some backup and now there is going to be a lot more girl power on the show."

The Grammy-nominated DioGuardi has composed songs for Kelly Clarkson, Christina Aguilera, Gwen Stefani, Celine Dion, Faith Hill, Carrie Underwood, Santana and Pink, and has worked with teen artists such as the Jonas Brothers and Hillary Duff. With the "Idol" median age increasing every season, she potentially brings a more teen-market perspective to the judge's table.

Executive producer Cecile Frot-Coutaz noted that producers originally intended for the show to have four judges, a format adopted by the show's U.K. forebear "Pop Idol."


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