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Published:January 18th, 2011 10:52 EST

American Idol Premieres Wednesday! Can Idol Succeed Without Simon Cowell?

By Robert Paul Reyes

"Is `American Idol` too big to fail?

Despite nosediving ratings, charisma-free winners and a chronically fatigued formula, the Fox Government (er, Network) has continued to prop this monster up.


Months before the new season began, the network ate up as much time as possible naming the new judges, the better to keep headlines hot and speculation high.

Then, in the weeks leading up to ­Wednesday`s big return (starting at 8 p.m.), the network began carefully doling out hints about how the new season will be bigger, brighter and not at all like the sinking ship that rats Simon and Ellen couldn`t escape fast enough."

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Critics love to emphasize the declining ratings of American Idol and the lack of success on the Billboard charts of the last three Idol winners, but let`s keep things in perspective: American Idol is still the top show on network TV.

However this is a pivotal season for Idol, Fox`s long-running hit show needs to prove that it can succeed without Simon Cowell, and that it can reverse the ratings decline.

The producers of Idol have made these few tweaks hoping that it will revive their cash machine:

*The judges will be kinder and gentler.

*Fifteen is the new lowered age limit.

*Viewers will be allowed to vote online.

*Singers will be able to perform songs they`ve written themselves.

This season the judges will strive to mentor and encourage the contestants. Boring! If Idol wants to go that route why not have the judges and the top ten finalists hold hands and sing Kumbaya? American Idol became a smash success because viewers loved watching Simon Cowell skewer clueless contestants.

The new judges are Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler, but who really cares? Nobody can replace Simon Cowell!

Lowering the eligibility age limit to fifteen will only help if the producers strike gold and find a talented and telegenic kid with a funny haircut. Does Justin Bieber have a younger brother?

Allowing viewers to vote online is an excellent idea, this change will appeal to a younger demographic that advertisers crave.

Permitting contestants to sing songs they`ve written themselves has a potential for disaster, that ironically may prove to be a good thing. Viewers may get a kick out of witnessing the contestants croon songs with awful lyrics.

But all these tweaks won`t mean a thing if the end result is another American Idol winner like David Cook, Kris Allen or Lee DeWyze. Has anyone seen Cook, Allen and DeWyze in the same room at the same time? I`m convinced they are the same person.

The last three winners of Idol are as exciting as a slice of white bread that has had its edges trimmed off. If the next Idol winner doesn`t have the hot sexuality of an Adam Lambert or the originality of a Siobhan Magnus critics will finally be justified in writing the program`s epitaph.

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