Ellen DeGeneres Addition Great Promotional Move for "American Idol"

Last Updated Sep 10, 2009 11:29 AM EDT

It's time for me to move on from my prediction that Paula Abdul would somehow manage to come back to "American Idol" with yesterday's news that Ellen DeGeneres would fill Abdul's seat. From a sheer promotional standpoint, this is one brilliant move, destined to be a shot in the arm to a franchise, that, while still hugely popular, is beginning to show signs of age. The finale of the last season was its lowest rated ever, though, with 28.8 million viewers, it was still nothing to sneeze at.

Add DeGeneres to the mix and you get not only an immensely likable addition to the panel of judges, but someone with a popular weekday talk show, who will no doubt be talking about "Idol" incessantly, particularly as the contest becomes more heated. Not even Simon Cowell could provide such a strong, constant promotional platform. As media fragments -- and "Idol"'s declining numbers are a symptom of that, the addition of DeGeneres is a bulwark against the declining fortunes not just of "Idol" but also of network TV. Even if the show's ratings continue to decline this season, my bet is they probably would have declined more without DeGeneres.

Additionally, the synergies for both "The Ellen DeGeneres Show" and "Idol" are a beautiful thing to behold, if you're into that sort of thing -- expect every human being associated with "Idol" this season to appear on DeGeneres' show, perhaps even as a first stop before making their accustomed rounds of the morning shows and late-night talk shows. After all, who looking for a showbiz career wants to offend an "American Idol" judge? The only element that would make the synergy better is if both shows were produced by the same company -- but, alas, "Ellen" is produced by Warner Bros. A few critics I've read this morning are carping about whether she has any credentials with which to judge musical talent, but, seriously folks, when has that ever mattered? Her job is to fill (a bit more coherently and amusingly), the "if you don't have anything nice to say don't say it at all" chair now vacated by Abdul -- not to use the phrase "that was a little pitchy" over and over. Let Randy Jackson take care of that. I'll close with comparing the appointment of DeGeneres to the appointment last year of Kara DioGuardi as "Idol"'s fourth judge. Sure, DioGuardi is deeply involved in the music business, but before her appointment no casual fan had ever heard of her. Between the naming of DeGeneres and the naming of DioGuardi, there's simply no contest.