Not only is American Idol stacking its deck of supposedly amateur contestants with pros, judge Randy Jackson has helped propel into Idol‘s top 24 an artist he used to work with at MCA—the same kind of cheating for which he’s nailed Simon Cowell.
In 1999, Carly Smithson sold about 300 copies of her record for major label MCA and was promptly dropped. Jackson started at MCA in 1998 and was based at its Universal City, California, headquarters, working for four years as a senior veep of A&R, the division responsible for scouting, developing, and pushing new artists, according to Jackson’s own bio at americanidol.com. In other words, he had a front-row seat (and possibly some responsibility) for Smithson’s unfortunate run at the brass ring on MCA’s dime. It seems highly unlikely that a top level scout such as Jackson would forget such a big-time flop, especially when she came back and stared him in the face on Idol (even if she did change her name from Hennessy to Smithson).