Photo Credit: Fox
Kara DioGuardi hasn't had it easy since joining the pop culture giant that is American Idol. She took heat from the show's fans when she was first added as the fourth judge and the criticism of her only grew when Paula Abdul announced that she was leaving the show. Now, five months later, the show's signature crabby Brit, Simon Cowell, revealed that the 2010 season of the show would be his last.
Outside of the show, the 39-year-old singer-songwriter is making moves of her own in her personal life. In July, she tied the knot with teacher-turned-general contractor Mike McCuddy, 35 in Maine, where they first met. iVillage talked with DioGuardi about her favorite thing about being a newlywed, bonding with new judge Ellen DeGeneres and her "love-hate-respect" relationship with Simon.
Were you and Ellen able to do any bonding before going to Hollywood Week?
Yes, we got together. We really have a good thing. She is a great judge. It comes very natural to her. She's funny, she's critical, she's warm, but yet she knows a lot about music, which I think people will be surprised to learn. She can tell if the guitar is off or if something's not right. And she's not afraid to say it, but she does it in a way that is constructive.
So you were able to spend some time together?
We did, and that was definitely helpful to be able to spend some time with her and kind of tell her my thoughts on the show, and if she needed any guidance or if she had any questions. It was really nice, we hung out, we had dinner. It was really fun.
What are your expectations about Simon not being on Idol next season?
I expect the show to do well. I think it is such a powerful program in the sense that it takes people who would never have the chance to meet music experts or professionals and gives them that shot to go after their dream. These people come from all kinds of places, like the most remote towns. Some of them are full of a lot of pain and sorrow and to give each one of these people a chance is pretty powerful and I think that's what makes the show so great.
Who is your dream fourth judge to replace Simon?
A dream fourth judge? I mean I just found out about the news, so it's kind of like the body is still warm. I kind of just want to think about it. It's not really something that needs to be addressed today. We're in Hollywood Week and I want to concentrate on it.
Would you say you have a love-hate relationship with Simon?
I would describe my relationship with him as love-hate-respect. I have mad respect for that man. He's accomplished so much in his life. He's a great judge on that show and he says things that no one else could say and gets away with it. And he's made it a huge program and you can't take anything away from him for that.
Have you stayed in touch with Paula Abdul since last season?
I spoke to her before Christmas and I think she's doing really well.
You have some of the most passionate fans on Twitter and they wanted to make it clear that the Internet does not hate you.
Thank you. I'd never been called some of the things I was called. It was really crazy. I was like, "Wow, I'm ugly. Oh, no. Now I just want to go home." But you get used to it and everyone has a right to their opinion and I'm just trying to be the best judge I can on the show.
Did that get more difficult for you when Paula announced that she was leaving?
Definitely, because it changes the chemistry and she was very helpful to me. She was kind and supportive and showed me the ropes. It's rough when they leave because you have that chemistry and it's got to be rebuilt.
You're judging a contest in which people are remaking the classic "The best part of wakin' up is Folgers in your cup" jingle. You're a professional judge now.
I'm a professional judge [laughs]. And let me tell you, there's definitely a learning curve. It's not easy just to get on there and start judging people.
What's the weirdest part of going from being relatively anonymous to being recognized by millions of people?
I think the strangest part for me is seeing myself on television. It's just been a learning curve. There've definitely been moments where I've looked at the TV and thought, "Oh jeez, that did not just happen. I didn't say that or I didn't wear that." I was behind the scenes for so many years, and then to all of a sudden be in front of 25 million people -- and at times be judged by the American public -- it's been quite a ride.
Does dealing with that get any easier?
At some point you have to kind of tune it out. You have to just concentrate on what your job is. And your job is to be the best judge you can be and to really listen to these kids and give them critiques that will help them in the future, whether they're on Idol or whether they leave the show.
What's the best thing about being a newlywed?
It's great to have someone that is in your camp rooting for you. I really love that about being married, that when I come home and I've had kind of a hard day, I have someone to download to and it's like my buddy lives with me, who I love. It's great. I'm really loving it and I never thought I'd get married.
Has it been hard being apart when you're so busy with Idol?
Well, we live in the same house, so I come home and he's there and last night he came by Hollywood Week and this week is really just tense and tough, but we'll see each other on the weekends. We both love what we do, so we're lucky.