question of the day: Who should get paid $38 million to be a judge on ‘American Idol’?

I don’t pretend to understand why audiences find the modern Gong Show freak show American Idol so enthralling, so I don’t even know where to begin thinking about this bit of news. According to a scoop at Deadline Hollywood, the rumor that Howard Stern would be replacing Simon Cowell as a judge on that show shall not come to pass. But:

According to my sources close to the show, the new judge will be announced at the end of the current run. Whoever gets the gig will have a sweet deal: 19 Entertainment, the London-based company which created American Idol, has a budget of $38 million to spend on Cowell’s replacement.

I’ve heard some people say that they like American Idol because “some of those contestants have amazing voices!” But if audiences just wanted to listen to good music, they’d just listen to good music. I find the conclusion inescapble that audiences instead love seeing people be humiliated in front of millions of viewers. Certainly, that’s what Cowell is “good” at, isn’t it? People tune in to hear him berate contestants, right? How can the “entertainment” that Cowell provides be replaced?

Who should get paid $38 million to be a judge on American Idol? Should it be someone with the power and willingness to, I dunno, waterboard losing contestants? Perhaps Dick Cheney should be the new judge.

Any other suggestions?

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