No matter what you thought of Kara DioGuardi’s stint as a judge on American Idol, you kind of had to feel bad for her when she left the show. Her exit in September 2010 was greeted with a mix of shrugs and relief, as though she was the one holding the show back during its tepid ninth season. She became a scapegoat, even though Simon Cowell’s senioritis and Randy Jackson’s continued banality were far bigger issues for the show.
She returns to reality television tonight in the form of Platinum Hit, which premieres on Bravo at 10. The show puts 12 up-and-coming singer-songwriters (with heavier emphasis on the latter) in the spotlight and pits them against one another in a series of songwriting challenges doled out by DioGuardi and co-host Jewel, with $100,000 and a series of recording and publishing deals at stake.
Each episode focuses on a particular songwriting genre, which is appropriate for DioGuardi, considering she has penned everything from dance tracks to rock anthems to country jams to whatever it is that Ashlee Simpson makes. But what has the award-winning songwriter been up to since her departure from Idol?
She’s mostly been focusing on a different kind of writing, as she devoted the bulk of her time to a memoir called A Helluva High Note: Surviving Life, Love and American Idol. The book, which was just released last month, not only tells the story of her time on American Idol (she took up smoking as an attempt to get approval from noted smoker Cowell), but also some horrifying personal tales (she was molested by a family friend when she was 11, raped by a famous but unnamed music producer and repeatedly sexually harassed by a “hugely successful,” Spanish-speaking artist).
But it hasn’t been all reliving past horrors, as she continued to press forward doing A&R for Warner Bros. Records (“In My Head” singer Jason DeRulo was a DioGuardi project). And, as she details in A Helluva High Note, she is still trying to have children (one of the reasons she asked out of her Idol contract was so she could focus on IVF treatments in a less stressful environment).
Of course, she’s also been making all manner of television deals. Not only does she have Platinum Hit already in the hopper, but she just signed on to do a second, more personal show for Bravo that will simply be called Kara.
Platinum Hit puts DioGuardi in a much more comfortable place, as it focuses more on songwriting than on performing. She probably won’t even have to worry much about lyrics. After all, she has America’s best-selling poet alongside her.