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American Idol season finale tonight; Simon Cowell says goodbye

Another season of American Idol is coming to a close. It's been a strange one with the absence of Paula Abdul, the addition of Ellen DeGeneres, and most of all, the last season for Simon Cowell.

After nine seasons, the show will have to set off next year without Simon Cowell. Remember that when the show started, it was a summer show when summer original programming was even less the norm than it is today, and Cowell's cutting remarks are what made the show an American institution. I remember first hearing someone talk about the show while interning for a commercial radio station, as the music director was intrigued by the possibility. Little did she or the rest of America know where the show would go from there.

Will Kara, Randy or Ellen step into that position? Kara seems the most likely to make her attempt at being the new Simon, and it will be interesting to see if she makes her move once Simon leaves and stops taking up all the air in the room. Ellen seems to have moved into Paula's position, often unwilling to be overly critical of the contestants, while also bringing her own schtick with a steady string of one liners. Randy is, well, Randy, and anyone expecting him to significantly change hasn't been watching for the last nine years.

The season finale is tonight at 8 o'clock on Fox. Crystal Bowersox and Lee DeWyze face off, and Fox finds a way to stretch the sentence "Your American Idol is..." out to two hours. I can't wait!

(Photo: Daniel Berehulak/Getty Images)