Mr. TV: My Crystal Ball

I know what you’re thinking. American Idol is opening its ninth season this Tuesday, and you’re saying to yourself, “Man, time flies,” and that you’re not ready to get sucked into all that drama and viewing intensity just yet.

I think the same thing every year, yet I always manage to get right back into the fold once those goofy auditions are over and the real contest begins. Chances are you will too.
While I have poked fun at ditzy Paula Abdul over the years, her presence will definitely be missed. Unfortunately, I’m not one of those people who think Ellen DeGeneres joining the show is a good idea (seriously, what musical qualifications does she have?). And Kara DioGuardi still feels like an outsider to me. Good or bad, there’s only one Paula.

As for Simon Cowell threatening to depart at the end of the season, if that really does happen the show should quickly fold. It will be over, kaput. While Ellen may suffice as Paula’s replacement, no one can fill the villain role.

Simon, of course, has said he plans to leave for several years running, so take his latest threat with a large grain of salt. But if he does manage to bring British talent search show The X-Factor to the U.S. (and signs Paula Abdul as one of the hosts), the replacement for Idol will be set. For now, Paula or no Paula, American Idol will top the charts again this season—that’s a given. But after nine long years, I for one would welcome a new option.

The initial plan at Fox was to lead out of American Idol on Wednesday this week with a new game show from busy Mark Burnett called Our Little Genius, which features extraordinarily bright youngsters who answer increasingly difficult questions to win as much money as they can. (The catch: The parents can choose to walk away at any time. Since this column is about reading your mind, I assume this would have reminded you of Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?, a show that has already worn out its welcome after just a few seasons.) But Fox last week mysteriously yanked Genius (at the request of Burnett, who explained in a prepared statement that there was an “issue” with how the information was relayed to the contestants), and a repeat of episode 450 of The Simpsons is stepping in this week.

My spider sense tells me now you’re wondering why Fox doesn’t have anything better than a repeat to slot out of Idol.

Continuing with the clairvoyance, let’s head to NBC this Sunday for The 67th Annual Golden Globe Awards, which will air live from the famed Beverly Hilton Hotel in Los Angeles. Since it is rare these days you will ever see me at the movies, I’ll focus on my favorite medium, TV. What I like about the nominations this year are the nods to freshman Modern Family (ABC) and Glee (Fox) for Best Television Series, Comedy or Musical.

I also admire the recognition of Courteney Cox (ABC’s Cougar Town), Toni Collette (Showtime’s The United States of Tara), Edie Falco (Showtime’s Nurse Jackie), Julianna Margulies (CBS’ The Good Wife), Jane Adams and Thomas Jane (HBO’s Hung), and Matthew Morrison, Lea Michele and Jane Lynch for Fox’s Glee in the various acting categories.

If you happen to be in an office pool, most likely to win of the newbies is lanky Jane Lynch as bitter Sue Sylvester in the open category of Best Supporting Actress in a Series, Miniseries or Motion Picture Made for Television. The character of Sue Sylvester, in fact, would have been a better fit on American Idol than Ellen DeGeneres. Imagine the fireworks opposite Simon Cowell. Modern Family versus Glee is a more difficult pick, but my gut tells me Glee will score multiple wins.