TV Hates Kara DioGuardi: American Idol Judge and Westchester Native Fights for Ratings Love

Where’s the love for former American Idol host Kara DioGuardi?



Things just got worse for Kara DioGuardi’s TV career.

There’s no doubt that the former American Idol judge and Westchester native is a huge success behind-the-scenes: She’s written/co-written earworms for Christina Aguilera (“Ain’t No Other Man”), Enrique Iglesias (“Don’t Turn Off the Lights”), Hilary Duff ("Fly”), and Ashlee Simpson (“Pieces of Me”). Her music publishing company, Arthouse Entertainment, has even more hits to its name, including Bruno Mars’ “Just The Way You Are” and Cee-Lo Green’s “Forget You.”

But, for some reason, she just can’t translate that success to the small screen. Sure, she made it through two seasons (the eighth and ninth) as a judge on Idol. But she wasn’t well-liked — the New York Post voted her the No. 1 worst TV judge, saying she “can’t decide if she’s a sex object, a sexual harasser, or the savior of Idol” — and she herself found the experience pretty miserable, as reported in Rolling Stone. Worst of all, those two seasons continued a decline in viewers. (To be fair, the most recent season — with judges Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler, a Yonkers native — had even fewer viewers.)

OK, so maybe Idol wasn't the best fit. This summer saw Platinum Hit, a Bravo reality competition about songwriting. Songwriting is exactly in DioGuardi’s wheelhouse, and Bravo‘s more merit-based approach to reality shows means that she wouldn’t have to do any embarrassing stunts like singing in a bikini — something she had to do in the eighth season of Idol. She also had the burden/honor of being named “head judge” on the show, while her cohort Jewel was only the “host/judge.”

Platinum Hit finished its first season on Friday. Didn’t watch it? That’s because nobody did. The show overall got pretty low ratings and, after the number of viewers dropped from 823,000 to a dismal 397,000, Bravo shunted it over to Friday nights to die a slow death. “The show’s first season will most likely be its last,” reports Examiner.com. (For those of you who did watch the finale: Wasn’t it odd that they kept referring to guest judge Leona Lewis as a multi-platinum singer/songwriter, when her biggest hit, “Bleeding Love,” was actually written by OneRepublic’s Ryan Tedder and Ardsley native Jesse McCartney? You think a show called Platinum Hit would feature judges that actually, you know... wrote their own hits.)

Once again DioGuardi presided over a ratings disaster. (We’re not even talking about The One: Making a Music Star, another show she judged back in 2006, which the Washington Post reports debuted to “historically low numbers” for ABC and was canceled after a few weeks.) I’m not sure why Platinum Hit would bomb while something like Top Chef does well. As an audience member, I can hear and evaluate the songs for myself, but I can’t really taste the dishes made by Top Chef contestants. Maybe audiences just don’t like the awkward way DioGuardi and Jewel posed in their party dresses during the credits/ads for the show. (Why does every Bravo show have ads that involve people posing in party dresses, anyway?)

Why doesn’t Kara DioGuardi connect to audiences? Is it her cold personality/demeanor, or is it just rotten luck on her part? Any one out there want to defend her?

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Marisa LaScala

Marisa LaScala
Elmsford, NY


Associate Editor Marisa LaScala joined Westchester magazine in 2003, and ever since she's blown every paycheck at the Greenburgh Multiplex. She also staunchly defends Richard Kelly, doesn't mind spoiling the endings of trashy movies you're curious about but don't want to pay to see, wishes the Hold Steady would come back and rock out Westchester, misses Arrested Development more than anyone can imagine, and still watches cartoons and Saturday Night Live. You can find more of her cultural criticism at www.popmatters.com, where she is a staff writer.

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