So yesterday I had a choice to make. I could participate in a conference call with Kara DioGuardi or I could watch the four-hour premiere of “24”…
Do I really have to tell you guys which way that one went?
But thanks to the magic of replay, I was able to hear the conference call later and I am now more convinced than ever that Kara is going to be a strong addition to the show…
One of the interesting things that we’ll see from her in the audition rounds is strategy. Because Simon had the tie-breaker vote, Kara said there were “a bunch” of times when she had to make the call on whether a contestant really deserved a second chance because she knew Simon would vote no.
She admitted there’s “a little girl power goin’ on” and she cited the girl in the bikini that’s been all over the promos as an example. But as far as who she agrees with the most, Kara said it’s a case-by-case basis. “I definitely can sometimes see where Simon’s coming from, but I may not have said it quite the way he said it. But I also do believe in second chances early on. I know that if I hadn’t had a second chance a lot of times I wouldn’t be where I am today…Sometimes you see potential in people and you have to think past some of the mistakes maybe they made because they were nervous or whatever. So I do believe in second chances, but third chances? That’s another story.”
And as for the reports that Kara and Paula are ganging up on Simon: “When he deserves it, we give it to him. And believe me, he deserves it sometimes.”
So how does she describe the other judges? “I would say that Paula has a lot of heart, I would say that Simon pretty much tells it like it is. Sometimes he can be, you know, pretty harsh, but he’s usually right. And Randy’s just, he’s the diplomat.”
Kara actually reserved some of her nicest words for Ryan. “He’s just been a doll and very supportive and very encouraging. I have nothing but great things to say about everybody. They’ve just been great to me in terms of behind the scenes…”
So how does Kara describe herself? “I think I have a combination of all of [the judges]. I do like to say it like I see it. I don’t really mince words but I do feel I have a heart. And when you’re dealing with creative people that have some talent, you want to make sure you encourage them. But also if they don’t have any talent, you want to discourage them because you don’t want them to waste their time. So I may say things that are negative but I always try to do it with some heart and some understanding of what it’s like to be on the other side of the table.”
Kara said in the beginning the biggest mistake she made was talking over people because she didn’t know when she was supposed to talk. “In the beginning, it was a little unnerving. I didn’t know where I was going to sit, I didn’t know when I was going to speak. So that kind of, you know these kind of shifts in something that’s been so just the way it’s been for so many years has really added a new dynamic, I think.”
So what are we going to get with Kara? “I think [you’re] going to see somebody who’s pretty feisty and opinionated. But it’s also coming from a good place as somebody who’s trying to help these contestants and impart my own experience to them so at the end of the day whether they win or lose, they learn something.”
Kara said she’s working on a signature line, but right now, it’s “Be you.”
One reporter asked Kara what she thought this would mean for her career. “I never in a million years imagined I would be a judge on ‘American Idol’, so when I got that call it was really an honor and in some ways I felt like I had hit the lottery. And I didn’t even really think about what’s this going to mean, I just said yeah, I’ll do this. I mean I’ve been involved in so many of these kids’ careers and this is what I do every day. I look out for talent, I help them in the studio, I produce them. You know, that’s my life. I live for that and it just felt like a natural extension. That it’s on television, the biggest TV show, and you know, so many viewers, you know, wow, I don’t know what to say about that. It was an honor to be called and I’m looking forward to making this year as great as it can be, and finding the best talent out there and giving
my stand on why I think they’re great or why they’re not.”
Try as they might, none of the reporters could get Kara to talk specifics about the contestants, but she did admit that the men were the stronger group this year. She said there were about 5-10 men that were “great.”
As for past “Idol” contestants, she has worked with a ton of them. But the one she would most like to work with but hasn’t is Chris Daughtry. “If he’s out there and he wants to do a co-write, please call me.”
Some people in the music industry have been down on “Idol” and think it is the wrong way to find new talent; but Kara isn’t one of those. “In the beginning when I heard about it I really didn’t understand what it was. It sounded kind of like ‘Star Search’ and I didn’t quite understand it. But once I saw the show I thought it was incredible. I think if you have to slug it out or you get lucky it doesn’t matter. If you’ve got talent and you’re gonna be somebody who’s going to make their mark and have great music out there kudos to you no matter how you break in. So I don’t begrudge anyone because they didn’t have to go through seven or eight years of slugging it out. And this show gives kids that would never have an opportunity to be in front of professionals that opportunity and I think for that it’s incredible. It’s about dreams and helping people achieve those.”
Kara also admits that it took her a little while to find her place at the table. She said at one point during the first city, “Paula turned to me and said, ‘Uh, are you gonna be you?’…I got the message and went back to my old ways…It’s something that took a minute to again be yourself and also find a place within the show where you weren’t at all detracting from the show or the people around you or inhibiting them in any way. It’s something that I’m still working on but I think I’m there. I hope you guys think so too.”
I’m looking forward to finding out, aren’t you?...
Photo Credit: Michael Becker/FOX