WATCH: Kara DioGuardi on 'Idol' Stint: "It Was Like I Broke Up the Beatles'

The former Idol judge opens up about her controversial run on the show, as well as being sexually abused as a child

American Idol might be a heck of a lot of fun to watch, but things aren't always as pleasant when you're the sitting in the judge's chair. In an interview with Matt Lauer on the Today show Tuesday morning, Grammy-nominated songwriter and former Idol judge Kara DioGuardi opened up about her new memoir, A Helluva High Note: Surviving Life, Love and American Idol (in stores now), and her experiences on the top-rated show.

In the book, DioGuardi describes her two-season stint on American Idol as "torture," elaborating to Lauer: "It took viewers awhile to understand why I was there. It was like I broke up the Beatles." Comparisons to Yoko Ono aside, DioGuardi says on Today, "(The producers) wanted the chemistry to be fresh, but it was difficult to come into something that was so established." Watch the interview below!



In the interview, Lauer repeats the speculations that DioGuardi was brought on the show to "keep Paula Abdul in line, so that she wouldn't go cray in contract negotiations" -- and DioGuardi demurs, saying: "I don't know that that was completely true. They wanted to mix it up." She adds the Idol experience -- which, in the book, she calls "mentally, physically and emotionally challenging" -- was ultimately a growing experience, and she hopes that sharing her story might "help others." In fact, DioGuardi says, "I have to say I have nothing but love for American Idol. I came through it. I'm stronger for it. I got to face some really big fears."

DioGuardi also reveals in the book that she was repeatedly molested by a teenage family friend when she was young, and her mother did nothing about it. DioGuardi tells Lauer, "It was a time when there were no Oprahs ... I think it was very hard for her to deal with."

The traumas continued in adulthood when she was date-raped by a "fairly well-known" producer. DioGuardi writes in the book, "The thing about date rape is you don't know it's happening until it's too late." Again, DioGuardi told no one, in the fears that she might hurt his career. Of her decision to include these traumatic experiences in the book, DioGuardi tells Today: "These are all things that affected my songs. Going through an experience like that is so difficult... a lot of those experiences ended up in kind of angry songs. For me, it was important to express why I got into these bad relationships. But... following my dream is what saved me."

As for why she doesn't name the producer who date-raped her, DioGuardi says: "It's not about that person. I don't want it to become about that person. I want it to become about all the other people who have been through this experience and tell them that you can get through it and you can be stronger for it."

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