The beginning of 2010 means Season 9 of American Idol is right around the corner. Six days, to be exact. Fox's hit show kicks off with a two-hour premeire Tuesday night, followed by a one-hour episode Wednesday. Here are a few questions -- and some early predictions -- to ponder as we head into yet another crazy ride:
- Will be Paula Abdul be missed? Of course. Next question.
- Does the return of the Top 24 represent good things to come? Season 8 went off the rails as soon as word leaked about the Top 36 and that pointless Hollywood mansion. Let's hope going back to what worked means just that. (Check out all the important dates for the upcoming season here.)
- How will the addition of Ellen Degeneres affect the show? The controversial decision to replace an Idol fixture with the megapopular talk show host sent shockwaves around the country. Yes, Degeneres says she is an avid fan of the show, but if the comic tries to be too cute, viewers may revolt.
- Is this Simon Cowell's last season? There's been rampant speculation over the past few weeks that Simon will walk away from the vehicle that made him a star when his contract ends later this year. I began to think that could happen toward the end of last season -- could the Brit have looked any less interested? -- and still do. Hello, Piers Morgan.
- Will fans ever warm to Kara DioGuardi? Not likely. Last year's new judge recently had some noteworthy things to say to Billboard magazine. Randy Jackson -- not so much.
- How many appearances will Adam Lambert make this season? More than any other Idol runner-up, I'd wager. It looks like he's going on Oprah soon, too.
- Where will Ryan Seacrest land his next gig (or four)? Maybe the busiest man in show business will get a thank-you note from President Obama for doing his part to rein in the umployment rate.