Talent Show Judges Then And Now

By Aaron Love 6 months ago

Randy Jackson: Then

Image Source: Variety

Randy Jackson was one of the original judges on season one of American Idol and proceeded to remain on the show all the way through to season 12 in 2013. This makes him the longest running judge on the show! Before the show Jackson worked within the music industry for Columbia Records.

Randy Jackson: Now

Image Source: US Weekly

Following Journey's split with founding member Ross Valery in 2020, Randy returned to work with the group as bassist where he featured in the 2022 release Freedom. Beside this, he also manages the Charlotte-based rock group Paper Tongues.

Simon Cowell: Then

Image Source: US Weekly

Simon Cowell, alongside friend Simon Fuller pitched the UK version of Pop Idol in 2001, and following its success, managed to create a sister version here in the US. At this time he was a respected producer and talent scout across the pond. Cowell is definitely notorious for his critical responses to the talented (and the talentless).

Simon Cowell: Now

Image Source: SHEfinds.com

These days, Cowell can still be seen on our screens as one of the judges on another of his shows America's Got Talent which will be heading in to it's 18th season this year. Alongside this he remains creating further concepts for us to keep our eyes glued to the screen including spinoff versions of AGT like: AGT: Extreme last year and All-Stars which premiered in January of this year.

Paula Abdul: Then

Image Source: Daily Star

Paula Abdul completed the original American Idol trio and was often needed as a the soft touch to contrast against Cowell's harshness; she remained on the show through until season 8. Prior to American idol Abdul was employed by the Lakers as, first a cheerleader, and then a choreographer. She is also tied at number one alongside Ariana Grande and Diana Ross for most number one singles by a female artist on the Billboard 100!

Paula Abdul: Now

Image Source: BuzzFeed

Following her stint as a judge on American idol, Abdul has appeared as a judge on a number of other talent shows including: The X Factor (Season One), So You Think You Can Dance (Season 10) and as a guest Judge on RuPaul's Drag Race. She toured for the first time in 25 years alongside New Kids on the Block and Boyz II Men in 2017.

Piers Morgan: Then

Image Source: The Mirror

Piers Morgan appeared on the opening six seasons of AGT as a british placeholder for Simon Cowell who was unavailable due to his contract with American Idol. Morgan often did his best to recreate the controversial harshness that was recognised as Cowell's signature and did so pretty well. Prior to AGT, Morgan was appointed the editor of previously popular UK Newspaper outlet News of the World. He even won the Celebrity Apprentice during his stint on AGT working with former president Donald Trump.

Piers Morgan: Now

Image Source: Manchester Evening News

Morgan took controversially (of course) took over from Larry King for CNN's evening show, but poor ratings meant the show was cancelled just three years later. He has since returned to the UK where controversy continues to follow him; a debacle surrounding his opinions on Meghan Markle's interview with Oprah eventually resulted in him leaving his employment with UK broadcaster ITV.  He can be seen on our screens on Piers Morgan Uncensored over on Fox Nation.

David Hasselhoff: Then

Image Source: US Weekly

David Hasselhoff worked on AGT for the first four seasons before departing for a failed attempt at a Hasselhoff family reality show. Despite remaining for four seasons, Hasselhoff wasn't necessarily the most popular of talent show judges to feature on our list. He was most popular for his role as heart-throb Mitch Buchannon on Baywatch.

David Hasselhoff: Now

Image Source: CNN

Since AGT, Hasselhoff has appeared in numerous projects including the cult favourite Sharknado series in Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No! and as a guest in the Marvel Universe as himself featuring in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol.2. Most recently, in 2022 Hasselhoff appeared, as himself in a couple of episodes of The Goldbergs.

Brandy Norwood: Then

Image Source: Teen Vogue

Brandy Norwood only appeared on one season of AGT and was replaced by Sharon Osbourne for season two. It was rumoured that she was removed as a judge on the show as a result of a controversial car crash that resulted in the death of a 38 year old female. Although Norwood was never arrested she did settle lawsuits related to the incident out of court.

Brandy Norwood: Now

Image Source: TVLine.com

Following AGT, Norwood has featured in numerous roles and continued her music career. 2010 saw a reality show surrounding herself and her brother Ray J and their role in the family's management and production company. Her biggest television role came as Chardonnay Pitts, a season regular on The Game.

Sharon Osbourne: Then

Image Source: People

As mentioned before, Osbourne replaced Norwood for season two of AGT. She was often seen to have a bubbly personality and her infectious laugh made her a fan favourite on the show. Her marriage to popular rock artist Ozzy Osbourne had a hand in her fame and MTV's The Osbournes can be accredited as the reason Sharon rose to fame.

Sharon Osbourne: Now

Image Source: The Hollywood Reporter

Osbourne appeared in 2010's version of NBC's The Celebrity Apprentice, the second judge on this list, although she was unable to match Morgan's first place as she finished third. Sharon co-hosted CBS' The Talk for 11 years between 2010 and 2021 before having her contract terminated. She now hosts a separate show, also titled The Talk, in the UK.

Kara DioGuardi: Then

Image Source: TMZ

DioGuardi joined American Idol in season eight, making that the first addition to the judging panel since its inception. It has been suggested that she struggled to fit in with her fellow judges and this was one of the reasons she didn't remain on the show for longer than her two year stint.

Kara DioGuardi: Now

Image Source: Variety

Since her brief appearance on American Idol, DioGuardi has become somewhat a powerhouse in the Music Industry as the executive vice president of talent development at Warner Bros, where she had a hand in the signing and subsequent rise of artists like Jason Derulo and Iyaz. She also owns Arthouse Entertainment, a publishing company used by record companies looking for compositions and songwriting. This means she has been involved in songs for numerous artists like Bruno Mars, Eminem and Halsey.

Ellen DeGeneres: Then


Image Source: The San Diego Union

Ellen DeGeneres replaced Paula Abdul for season nine of American Idol, accompanying DioGuardi, Randy Jackson and Simon Cowell. By this time Ellen had already been hosting her cult-followed The Ellen DeGeneres show for 7 years, and also worked as an accomplished stand up comic.

Ellen DeGeneres: Now

Image Source: FOX 11 LA

Ellen continued to host her self-titled talk show for 19 seasons through to its demise as a result of allegations made both against Ellen herself and the team behind the scenes. Beside this DeGeneres reprised her role as Dory in the Pixar film Finding Dory in 2016.

Nick Cannon: Then

Image Source: In Touch Weekly

Yes, Nick Cannon wasn't a judge on AGT but he was still a longstanding part of the show featuring between seasons 4-11 as a the host of the show. Prior to his role on the show he had made a name for himself as part of Da G4 Dope Bomb Squad and a stand-up comedian.

Nick Cannon: Now

Image Source: Parade

Following his departure from AGT citing differences between himself and station executives, Cannon may be most well known for the amount of children he has fathered since (12!!). He has continued his music career since the show also, being involved in diss tracks against Eminem following his appearance on Fat Joe and Dre's Lord Above track.

Howie Mandel: Then

Image Source: People

Howie Mandel joined the AGT desk in 2010 replacing David Hasselhoff, and at the time was very well known for nearly 30 years within the Television and Comedy industries.  He was particularly popular for his hidden camera segments on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.

Howie Mandel: Now

Image Source: The US Sun

Unbelievably, Mandel still remains as a judge on AGT 13 years after his first year on the show. He also has a popular podcast titled Howie Mandel Does Stuff which he hosts with his daughter. If you're a fan of the show The Masked Singer you will also recognise Mandel as he competed as Rock Lobster in the 2023 series.

Heidi Klum: Then

Image Source: Vogue France

Heidi Klum joined the cast of AGT in season 8 through to 13 alongside Spice Girl Mel B. She rose to fame as a supermodel who has featured in countless publications and fashion shows, working for mega brands such as Marc Jacobs, Givenchy and Jean-Paul Gaultier. She also hosted Project Runway before and during her AGT appearances.

Heidi Klum: Now

Image Source: Yahoo

Despite leaving AGT following 2018's series, Klum actually only missed one season of the show and returned in 2020. She still maintains a high prestige within the fashion industry, although she has appeared in some more obscure ventures in recent years. Particularly releasing the fashion line Heidi & The City exclusively for Lidl!

Steven Tyler: Then

Image Source: The New York Times

Steven Tyler joined American Idol for season 10 replacing Simon Cowell, who had left for AGT. He was often the more comedic of judges during his stint on the show alongside Randy Jackson. You will most likely know of Tyler as the exceptional and energetic front man of world-known band Aerosmith.

Steven Tyler: Now

Image Source: Rolling Stone

Since American Idol, Tyler has continued to tour the world with Aerosmith both on their own tour and as part of tours also including Slash. He also released his own solo country album in 2015. His reputation has been somewhat tarnished in recent months as a result of child sexual assault allegations.

RuPaul: Then

Image Source: The New York Times

RuPaul began producing drag race in 2008 and has been the mainstay as the title of the show would suggest through to the present day, seeing the show become more and more popular. Prior to the show he made his name as a world-renowned drag queen working with Mac Cosmetics and also hosted a talk show on VH1 where he interviewed musicians.

RuPaul: Now

Image Source: Twitter

RuPaul continues to appear on the show to this day, and there are now iterations of the show in other countries including the UK. He recently won a Tony award for his role as a producer on the broadway musical A Strange Loop. He also continues to create music releasing his 11th (YES ELEVENTH) studio album in 2017.

CeeLo Green: Then

Image Source: The New York Times

CeeLo Green was the first of four judges to be signed up for the US version of The Voice in 2011. He started his career as part of hip hop group Goodie Mob, but rose to prominence as Gnarls Barkley with the song Crazy reaching the top 5 in the charts in multiple countries across the world.

CeeLo Green: Now

Image Source: HipHopDX

Since his stint on The Voice you may have heard Green as the voice of Murray the Mummy in popular kids film Hotel Transylvania. He has also continued to make music throughout the decade or so following the show under a number of alias' including CeeLo and Gnarly Davidson. He was most recently seen on our screens as Shuggie in the Disney+ series The Proud Family.

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