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Randy Jackson: Hudson owes fame to ‘Idol’

“American Idol” judge Randy Jackson tells TODAY that Oscar nominee Jennifer Hudson owes her fame to the show, and that the judges are no meaner this year than in the past.
/ Source: TODAY

“American Idol” is what it is — a huge and lasting hit in the competitive reality television genre — and isn't likely to change in the coming season to appease those who say the music show is “meaner” of late, judge Randy Jackson tells TODAY.

Addressing questions about former contestant Jennifer Hudson's upcoming interview in Essence magazine, the Grammy Award-winning music producer told TODAY host Meredith Vieira that Hudson knew what she was getting into when she signed up for season four.

“You've been abused, misled and brainwashed to believe whatever they want you to think,” Hudson was quoted by Essence as saying in an interview for its March issue.

“I don't know about that. I heard recently that she said she was misquoted,” said Jackson, who shares the Idol judging duties with singer Paula Abdul and music producer Simon Cowell.

“She knew what the show was,” Jackson said of Hudson, who just won a Golden Globe for “DreamGirls” and is considered an Oscar favorite. “Jennifer Hudson would not be where she is today without ‘American Idol.’”

Asked by Vieira about the “mean” label some are attaching to “Idol” in this, its sixth season on FOX, Jackson said he hasn't noticed a departure from the judges' candid and sometimes-cutting commentary about contestants who have no business being on a stage.

Cowell is notorious as being the most critical of the judges; Jackson and Abdul are much nicer to contestants.

“Simon Cowell has always been Simon Cowell. People talk about the fact it is so much meaner this season. I think they need to go back and watch,” Jackson said. “I think people have selective memory, [or] they don't know what this show is about.”

“You've always been mean,” Vieira quipped.

“Simon's always been Simon. It's not going to change,” Jackson said.

Jackson — a 20-year veteran of the music industry who is currently working on his first solo album — attributed “Idol's” longevity and huge popularity to its format, which couples talent and interactivity with the viewing audience at home.

“I think we were an original for what we were doing, and now I see there are a trillion shows out there with three judges,” Jackson said. “I always say, ‘Listen, you can never copy the Picasso.’ So ‘Idol’ is ....”

“... sort of the Picasso?” Vieira interjected. “I wouldn't say that,” Jackson laughed. “It is definitely an original format so far.”

— John Springer