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Get it together, "American Idol"

"American Idol" is coming to an end this week.

Crystal Bowersox or Lee DeWyze will be crowned the winner of American Idol 2010 and again, history will be made as millions call or text in to vote.  But the ratings have taken a sharp turn downward this year, so FOX might not toot the American Idol horn as loudly as they have in previous years.

This season, viewership of this powerhouse fell and it has finally dawned on me as to why:  The panel of judges talked our ears off!  We spent more time listening to them talk then we did listening to the talent perform.  It was like a town hall meeting after each performance!  Come on!

Thank God I have a DVR.  I swear, I couldn’t watch the show live all season because the commentary was so longwinded and tiresome.  I would listen to Randy and Ellen (because she was always funny), then I’d fast forward through Kara because she talked forever, then I’d stop and listen to Simon for the three seconds he was left to squeeze something in before Kara started in again.

It was torture.  We love Simon’s commentary!  It’s one of the best things about the show.  His time was cut short every episode!  Though his words were sharp and painful, he was always spot on in addressing what the audience was thinking, but didn’t have the voice to articulate.  His were the only comments that made sense!  Along with America, every single contestant waits for what blast of hard-slicing reality Simon will give them – but Kara cut him off repeatedly.  We were left with mere snippets of his wit and charm!  Argh!

I used to vote every season, every week for my favorite.  I took the $1 hit with pride each time I feverishly called to push my unknown artist forward.  I voted for David Cook, Ruben Studdard and Taylor Hicks and I felt like my vote among the other 63 million votes made a difference.  Well, it could have.

But I haven’t jumped on the voting bandwagon once this season.  I wanted to vote for Adam Garcia, Didi Benami and Casey James every single week, but I didn’t rush for the phone.  I was too frustrated and simply lost my passion for the show.

I believe I know why other American Idol fans might have lost theirs, too.  American Idol changed the formula that was working and the show lost its “mojo.”  It just hasn’t been the same!  We are annoyed.

The Simon Cowell-Paula Abdul-Randy Jackson format worked.  Randy kept the talent technical, Paula kept them in touch with the personal connection and Simon kept them grounded and real.  It was simple.  It was neat.  It was entertaining!  Then they went and messed with it!

Imagine “Survivor” without Jeff Probst, “Top Chef” without Tom Colicchio, or “Project Runway” without Tim Gunn.  The shows just wouldn’t be as appealing.  Unfortunately, “Idol” without its original three isn’t, either.

Let’s be honest:  American Idol without Paula was weird, but without Simon it will be average, dull and lackluster.  I think it will help if A) they move back to the original formula of using only three judges – Randy, Ellen, and perhaps, Bono?  Hey, Simon’s shoes are hard to fill.  B) They use Kara as a guest mentor or perhaps a boom operator.  This way she can get back to writing beautiful songs and she can talk all she wants.  C) They use more duets. That was the highlight of the whole season.

I am no Hollywood showrunner, but I am the average household viewer.  I humbly make these suggestions so we don’t lose a revolutionary show that that has given hundreds of unknown musicians the chance of a lifetime.  I want to hear you loudly toot your horn again!

Work it out before next season, please?

Maryann Castronovo can be reached at maryann.castronovo@sdnn.com