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Randy Jackson leaving: Time for major American Idol makeover? (+video)

Randy Jackson, one of the three original judges on American Idol, will step down, reports TMZ. Who will replace Jackson? With ratings slumping, is it time for an American Idol makeover?

Who will replace Randy Jackson on American Idol?
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The Dawg is gone?

After 11 seasons on American Idol, the Last Judge Standing, Randy Jackson, is vacating his seat, reports TMZ. He'll stick around as a mentor, but not as a judge.

That means the show's original three judges - Paula Abdul, Simon Cowell, and now Mr. Jackson – have left American Idol.

How much does it matter who the judges are? After all, the show has cycled through plenty of them over the years.

One could make the case that Jackson's exit could benefit the show. Many longtime fans could fairly well predict by now what he would say. Fresh judges, fresh insights?

RECOMMENDED: Are you a real American Idol fan? Take the quiz

In any case, American Idol may be ready for a major makeover. Last year's season finale, with Jessica Sanchez vs. Phil Phillips, had the smallest audience of any American Idol finale; even smaller than the first American Idol finale which aired in the slower summer months. Season 11's finale got just 21.5 million viewers. The biggest viewership for an American Idol finale was 38.1 million in 2003.

American Idol remains a cash cow for Fox. It pulls in about $500,000 for a 30-second commercial, and it remains one of the biggest draws on TV, despite a decline in audience in recent years. But few blame the cast of judges as responsible for the decline. Most observers say the ebb is a result of a combination of audience atigue and the rise of copy cat competition, especially, the arrival of Simon Cowell's "X-Factor" and NBC's "The Voice."

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