Idol’s baffling casting: Randy Jackson back as mentor, replacing Iovine; JLo back as judge

Former American Idol judge Randy Jackson will replace mentor Jimmy Iovine next season, according to Deadline’s Nellie Andreeva, who say it is “likely” Randy Jackson will take the spot. This makes even less sense than bringing back Jennifer Lopez to join returning judge Keith Urban and whoever else Fox manages to convince to board this damp, leaking ship.

The show finally got rid of some of its dead weight–Randy Jackson, who admittedly improved when Simon Cowell left–and then replaces one of its more interesting voices with him? What sense does that make, beyond being afraid of losing all of Randy Jackson’s fans?

Meanwhile, Jennifer Lopez’s boyfriend revealed she was returning to the show, which is rather uninspiring. JLo wasn’t a bad judge, but she wasn’t great, either, and her presence on the panel hardly justifies whatever her salary will be.

The series has new producers for its 13th season, and I’m willing to give them a shot to see if they can save the Titanic of reality competitions. And maybe Randy Jackson will be an incredible mentor.

But it’s hard to not see these decisions as simply the product of risk-adverse network television executives who should be encouraging creative and innovative changes. After all, a singing competition led by an acerbic British guy was far from a guaranteed hit when the show first debuted 13 years ago.

about the writer

Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 36, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.