One of the best things American Idol has had going for it is the expertise of Jimmy Iovine, who's served as mentor on the Fox singing competition series for three years. So, excuse me if I don't celebrate the news that Iovine is leaving the show, even if said news includes the report that departing judge Randy Jackson may take over as mentor.

Deadline reported this latest update to the ongoing rumor mill that is American Idol. While most of the updates we've heard have to do with the judges table - Keith Urban is returning, and Jennifer Lopez may return as well) - Deadline's report focuses on Jackson and Iovine. They say Randy's not as gone as we thought, and that Iovine is leaving the series.

We've known since May that Jackson - the last original American Idol judge at the table - was leaving the show, and that Nicki MInaj and Mariah Carey were not going to return after their one-season turns as judges. And all the while, I've been hoping that music producer and Interscope Records co-founder Jimmy Iovine would finally take a chair at the judges table. In recent years, Iovine's commentary and critiques of the performers have been some of the most spot-on the show has seen since the days of Simon Cowell (minus Cowell's occasional rudeness and colorful analogies). In a nutshell, Iovine knew what he liked, he knew what worked, and he knew how to be upfront and honest about the performances without being rude. He called it like he heard it without making it personal. I really hope his departure is his own doing and not the shows, because it's most definitely the show's loss.

As for Randy serving as mentor, eh.. My opinion of Randy as a judge is about on par with his general attitude toward singers that don't knock his socks off. It's fine. He's fine. He's familiar enough with the industry to be of value to the series, for sure, and he's one of the show's original judges, so it's nice that he's presumably sticking around. But I don't recall ever being impressed by his judging techniques. He seems to know what he likes and doesn't like, and what he's not sure about, but I see him more as someone who knows what he likes and doesn't like, but doesn't necessarily know how to turn those opinions into suggestions or advice on what they need to fix or why their performance did or didn't work. I guess that's what I like so much about Jimmy Iovine. He's honest and productive as a mentor, which is probably why he's been so successful in the industry. It's one thing to have good taste, it's another to be able to find people's potential and help them figure out how to reach it.

So to sum up, as good as it is that Randy may be sticking around American Idol after all, it's disappointing that Iovine's reportedly leaving. He brought quality to the show and I'm not sure there's any replacing that. But Deadline says music producer Dr. Luke is in talks for a spot as judge, so maybe they have another expert poised to join the show and hopefully offer a bit of what Iovine was bringing to the series.

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