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”?

Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. He wrote the Intelligencer column for NY Magazine in the mid 90s, reporting on the OJ Simpson trial, as well as for the real Parade magazine (when it was owned by Conde Nast), and has written for the New York Observer, Details, Vogue, Spin, the New York Times, NY Post, Washington Post, and NY Daily News among many publications. He is 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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