120744 cowell simon fox 341x182 Simon vs. Simon: Idol Will Soldier on Without HimSo Simon Cowell is really leaving “American Idol.” How will we manage?

Two words: Just fine. “American Idol” is not dependent on its judges anyway. It’s all about the talent. The judges are merely trimming.

For years Simon has been abrasive and cruel. It won’t be hard to find a replacement. There are plenty of embittered former record execs dying to take that spot.

“AI” will be smart to rely more on Randy Jackson in the 2011 season. He’s a musician, a producer, and he’s signed acts to labels. Randy is like “AI’s” secret weapon. Notice how he stays out of the madness when Simon is fighting with this one and that one. Randy is the judge to whom everyone will turn once Simon is gone.

And my guess, take it for what you will: Paula will be back. “AI” is very publicity-mad about headlines. When Simon exits, it’s not out of whack to predict a huge Paula return. They will do it for consistency, if nothing else. And by that time, Ellen DeGeneres will be bored and return to her own show.

One guy they might try out this season, if only as a guest judge: Desmond Child. The songwriter-producer of many, many hits would be just professional enough and a little bit flamboyant. Like Kara DioGuardi, he has the resume. And anyway, how about a night of “Livin’ La Vida Loca” and “Dude Looks Like A Lady”?

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Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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