'American Idol" judge Kara DioGuardi has started her second year on the show. The 39-year-old songwriter recently addressed some burning "Idol" questions.
WHAT HAPPENED LAST SEASON? "I never was in front of the camera" before "Idol," she says. "That was very difficult, to go from the back of the studio to in front of 30 million people. I wish people had been a bit easier on me for that because it's really scary when you're just kind of sitting right there and having all eyes on you and being judged."
WHAT TO EXPECT THIS SEASON? DioGuardi says she won't be taking over the role played by departed judge Paula Abdul, who almost always coddled the contestants. If anything, DioGuardi said, she's feeling more comfortable and might be tougher this year on the Fox show's would-be singers. "I may push it to be even more critical, just because I think the stakes are even higher in the music business these days," she says. "I'm not trying to hurt anyone. I'm trying to help them and tell them, 'Look, you've got to stand out.' "
WHAT ABOUT ELLEN?Although no shows featuring new judge Ellen DeGeneres have aired yet, DioGuardi said she's been impressed. "Idol" was in the middle of taping "Hollywood Week" last week, which winnows the golden ticket winners down to a set of semifinalists, and DeGeneres "is doing a phenomenal job," DioGuardi said. "She's funny. She's critical at times. She comments on things that are very specific to the music or the way they've changed the melody or their performance. I think people are going to be so impressed by her."
WHAT ABOUT SIMON?"We're all sad to see him go. He's an incredible judge. I was a fan of his before I came on the show, and I'm still a fan of his," she said. "I have mad respect for that guy. He's able to say things nobody else could say in a way that nobody else could even think of coming up with those things. So, of course, the dynamic will change. But I don't think the strength of the show will change."