New American Idol judges: Jennifer Hudson, Aiken, Lambert, Clarkson?

Can superstar former Idol judges like Jennifer Hudson, Clay Aiken, Adam Lambert, and Kelly Clarkson save the show? An enthusiastic yes. Photo: Jennifer Hudson / Adam Lambert / Clay Aiken

SAN DIEGO – May 28, 2013 – “American Idol’s” producers listened. If they follow through, it’s welcome news for Idol fans everywhere.

After season that was a ratings and critical disappointment, all of the judges on “American Idol” will be replaced for Season 13, which starts in January 2014, reportedly with a superstar judges panel of Idol alumni. It the perfect casting stunt to refresh the troubled show.

SEE RELATED: New American Idol judge: Ron Paul, Justin Bieber, Clay Aiken?

Multiple sources including E! News Online, the “Hollywood Reporter” and BET claim they have confirmed Oscar and Grammy winner Jennifer Hudson is signing on as a judge for one of three vacancies on the show. Hudson was voted off Season Three in sixth place, but it hardly slowed the talented singer down. She won an Oscar for her performance in the movie version of “Dreamgirls.”

The remaining two spots are reportedly going to either Season One winner Kelly Clarkson, Season Two runner up Clay Aiken, or Season Eight runner up Adam Lambert.

Idol’s producers are under the gun to get the judges signed. Auditions begin on July 11 in Salt Lake City, Utah and continue through mid-August in seven cities across the U.S.

As we said last July, the more you think about it, the more it makes sense to hire Clay Aiken as a judge on next season’s American Idol.

SEE RELATED: Fire Nicki Minaj for American Idol’s low ratings

Clay Aiken is reportedly one of the top 10 earners of Idol, earning an estimated $1.5 million in 2011. He proved that he has a loyal fanbase when he competed on the fall 2012 edition of “Celebrity Apprentice,” narrowly losing to Arsenio Hall. Aiken won new fans with his surprisingly outspoken, snarky personality and competitive spirit. You can’t win “American Idol” and not have a tough hide. His loyal “Claymates” would rally behind Idol with their favorite on the panel and they have the ability to make social media explode with talk about Aiken, something the producers and the network crave.

Communities suggested Aiken join the judges’ panel last year but the producers didn’t take our advice. Oh well, better late than never.

Chatter is growing louder about “American Idol” competitor Adam Lambert joining the judges’ panel, and he says he’s all about it if the producers come calling.

Lambert told the website he’d jump at the possibility. “It would be a really cool opportunity to help people coming into the show and to help them keep their vision focused because it does become overwhelming when you get in there and there’s so many people telling you what they think you should do and your family, the producer, the judges, and all the other contestants that might be screwing with your head. I think it might be nice as a judge to help people stay focused. It gets crazy and to help them reach their dreams — it would be such a reward.”

SEE RELATED: Arsenio Hall wins Celebrity Apprentice 2012; Clay Aiken 2nd again

Lambert appeared on Idol two weeks ago for the fourth time since competing on the show, performing “Titanium” with Angie Miller, who ended up in third place. He is also among the most successful former contestants produced by the show, with a large, devoted fan base and celebrity presence as a fashion icon and LGBT community activist with a focus on youth. His recent album “Trespassing,” debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 album chart, making Lambert the first openly gay artist to achieve that distinction.

Angie Miller, left, and Adam Lambert perform at the American Idol finale at the Nokia Theatre at L.A. Live on Thursday, May 16 in Los Angeles. Photo by Matt Sayles/Invision/AP

Kelly Clarkson has sold over 25 million album sales and 40 million singles worldwide In her career since winning the first American Idol title in 2002. Clarkson has accumulated 83  number one hits on the Billboard charts and 11 number one singles worldwide. She is ranked number 14 on the best-selling artists likes of the 2000s. Clarkson the a powerful reminder of Idol’s success in discovering major musical talents, something its competitor “The Voice” can’t begin to claim.

“American Idol” suffered its worst ratings to date in Season 11 just concluded. The Fox Network is desperate to reboot the series, and confirmed it would replace Keith Urban, Nicki Minaj, Mariah Carey, and Randy Jackson, going back to an original three judge panel. Minaj in particular was a polarizing figure, taking the blame for much of the show’s problems this season.

Bringing in popular Idol contestants who all have their own fan following and who know what it’s like to compete on the show adds an element no other reality singing competition TV show can boast. It reminds viewers just how successful the Idol franchise has been at discovering talent.

Making an official announcement about the panel couldn’t come at a better time; idol’s arch rival for the ratings “The Voice” on NBC is currently underway and has the reality singing competition field all to itself right now.   

A representative for Clarkson denied she is going to join the show. She is scheduled to be married on October 20 in Nashville to Brandon Blackstock, who is singer Blake Shelton’s manager. The timing puts the wedding after the auditions and before Season 13 production gets underway.

What would it cost to get Hudson, Aiken, and Lambert signed as judges? Last season Nicki Minaj reportedly earned $12 million, Mariah Carey $18 million, and country singer Keith Urban half of that. Urban recently told the Associated Press he isn’t sure whether or not he’s returning to the show. Keith, you might be the consolation prize. If you want to come back, get out your Clay and Adam voodoo dolls and get to work. 

Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, APR, is President/Owner of the Falcon Valley Group in San Diego, California. She is also a serious boxing fan covering the Sweet Science for Communities. Read more Media Migraine and Ringside Seat in the Communities at The Washington Times. Follow Gayle on Facebook and on Twitter @PRProSanDiego. Gayle can be reached via Google +


Please credit “Gayle Falkenthal for Communities Digital News at” when quoting from or linking to this story.   

Copyright © 2013 by Falcon Valley Group

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Gayle Falkenthal

Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, MS, APR, is President of the Falcon Valley Group, a San Diego based communications consulting firm. Falkenthal is a veteran award winning broadcast and print journalist, editor, producer, talk host and commentator. She is an instructor at National University in San Diego, and previously taught in the School of Journalism & Media Studies at San Diego State University.


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