August 25, 2008 / 5:50 PM / in 10 years

"American Idol" adds writer-producer as 4th judge

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Top-rated television talent show “American Idol” has added songwriter and producer Kara DioGuardi as a fourth judge, joining Simon Cowell, Paula Abdul and Randy Jackson, the Fox network said on Monday.

Randy Jackson helps Kara DioGuardi of Platinum Weird with her dress during the Los Angeles Chapter of the Recording Academy's annual ceremony to honor extraordinary artists in Los Angeles, California June 8, 2006. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

DioGuardi has written and produced songs for many music stars including pop stars Gwen Stefani and Christina Aguilera as well as past “Idol” winners Carrie Underwood and Kelly Clarkson, and she has received several awards in recent years.

“For the past seven seasons, Paula has had to endure the experience of being the only woman at the judges table,” said Mike Darnell, President of Alternative Programming at Fox, which airs the program in the United States.

“With Kara by her side, Paula finally has some back-up and now there is going to be a lot more ‘girl power’ on the show,” Darnell added.

The eighth season of “American Idol” is set to debut in January 2009, after a generally strong season in which rocker David Cook narrowly defeated young crooner David Archuleta in May’s finale.

The show drew an average 28.1 million viewers each week in the latest season, compared to 30.8 million at the height of its popularity in 2006. But the finale between Cook and Archuleta pulled in some 32 million viewers, up 3 percent from one year earlier.

Although “Idol” has featured a three-member judging panel since its inception, the program was originally intended to have four members, said executive producer Cecile Frot-Coutaz.

“We’ve seen from our international series that having a fourth judge creates a dynamic that benefits both the contestants and the viewers,” said Frot-Coutaz.

Reporting by Jennifer Martinez; Editing by Eric Walsh

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