Kara DioGuardi on Her ‘Rough’ Start and Pushing Paula Off of ‘Idol’

'American Idol' Judge Kara DioGuardi Opens Up on 'Nightline' (Photo: ABC)

'American Idol' Judge Kara DioGuardi Opens Up on 'Nightline' (Photo: ABC)

When Kara DioGuardi joined ‘American Idol‘ as a judge last year, viewers had many questions, like who she was, how to pronounce her name and if she was there to shove Paula Abdul aside.

Thanks to Ryan Seacrest’s weekly introductions, fans have got the hit songwriter’s name down. DioGuardi addressed the Paula issue on ABC’s ‘Nightline‘ Friday, along with her stage fright, recent marriage and her pick to replace Simon Cowell.

• On her rough ‘Idol’ start: “I think America felt like I was there to replace Paula. She’s so famous, so loved, no nurturing and I’m not really as nurturing. That’s not really my thing.”

• DioGuardi said she and the former judge, who left the show last year, still text each other. She had no intention of forcing Paula out: “I never wanted to do that.”

• When she first started joined Paula, Randy Jackson and Cowell at the judge’s table, it felt like high school, DioGuardi said. And she was unprepared for the fan backlash. “That was rough, because even though I’m tough, there’s a sensitive side to me, of course — I’m a songwriter.”

• The writer of such songs as Pink’s “Sober,” Christina Aguilera’s “Ain’t No Other Man” and Gwen Stefani’s “If I Were a Rich Girl” talked about the collaborative songwriting process. “It’s all about what their truth is and what my truth is. For instance, half the time I don’t even know them. We sit down, ‘Hey nice to meet you,’ I start asking questions: where are you from? What’s your relationship like with your parents? Do you have a boyfriend? Have you had your heart broken?’ And the more they talk the more I say, ‘I totally understand that, I completely understand that.’ Sometimes it’s uncomfortable because I’ll see them out and we had this really revealing moment where they may have cried or said something they’ve never said before.”

• She talked about her husband Michael McCuddy, a former teacher who now works as a contractor and artist. The couple married last July. He doesn’t mind that she doesn’t write about him because her songs don’t always take a good view of men. “He’s very happy I don’t write songs about him,” she said.

• As for who should take over for the cranky Brit, DioGuardi said she was impressed with Harry Connick Jr. when he mentored last season. “The way that he worked with the contestants, he really cared about them. I thought he was really, really great,” she said.

Even though her start on ‘Idol’ may have been rocky, DioGuardi now feels accepted by fans and is enjoying performing her songs acoustically. And she’s keeping plenty busy in her Idol-free time. She co-owns a music publishing and production company, Arthouse Entertainment, is seeking out new talent for as an A&R executive for Warner Brothers, and most recently, she’s begun hosting her own Top-40’s radio show.

Take that, Seacrest.

The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.

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