Jane Austen To Be American Idol Judge

by Bob Schwartz

Jane Austen

Jane Austen is actually dead; has been for almost two centuries. Whether or not that would stop American Idol from circulating rumors about her possible addition to the ever-changing panel of judges is unknown.

There is a new Idol connection to one of the most popular of British authors. The headline from the Daily Mail:

Anonymous donor gives $150,000 to stop U.S. singer Kelly Clarkson buying Jane Austen ring and keep in the UK

An anonymous donor has handed a Jane Austen museum £100,000 so that it may try and buy one of the author’s rings back from U.S. singer Kelly Clarkson who wants to take it out of Britain.

Earlier this month, the British government placed a temporary export ban on the gold-and-turquoise ring in the hope that money could be found to keep it in Britain.

The Jane Austen’s House museum said it had raised £103,200 of the £152,450 asking price since launching a fundraising campaign on Friday, most of it from a single anonymous donation.

Clarkson, a big Austen fan who reportedly owns a first edition of Persuasion, was top bidder for the ring in a Sotheby’s auction. The museum appreciates that the attention of an adoring pop star will help further raise awareness of the already-trendy author (see the newly-released indie film Austenland). But it also bemoans how much of Austen’s legacy has already left Britain, and how little remains there.

Two of the many thoughts this sparks:

Is there an Austen-inspired Kelly Clarkson single or album in the offing? One can imagine tracks inspired by each of the novels.

Should American Idol give up on judges with musical backgrounds (or in at least one case, a comedy/talk show one), and go instead with literary types? It could be current authors (J.K. Rowling, for example). Deceased authors may be out of bounds, although technically they could go with holograms or “tribute” judges pretending, i.e., if Kelly Clarkson won’t be a judge as herself, she could appear as Jane Austen. Given some of the judging antics past, this sort of thing might not be a reach too far.