Where Is Randy Jackson In 2018? The 'American Idol' Judge Is Getting Back To His Production Roots

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It's hard to imagine what American Idol would be like without the presence of Randy Jackson. The judge with the longest tenure on the show, Jackson became famous for laughing at ridiculous auditions behind a sheet of paper, and for catchphrases like "yo yo yo" and "it's a no from me, dawg." With the reboot of American Idol premiering on Sunday, fans of the old show might be sad that Jackson will not be resuming his role on the judging panel. But what is Randy Jackson doing in 2018?

The producer has moved on to other ventures. In September of 2017, Variety reported that Jackson is launching a full-service production facility called Starwest Studios. The report states that "Starwest houses a music recording suite, live broadcast room and a 3,800-square foot pillar-less dance floor suited for filming as well as casting and auditions."

Jackson is partnered with CEO Richard G. Stewart Jr., and producer partner Sammy Oriti. Variety reports that the statement announcing the new company states that "Randy Jackson and his partners wanted to create a production space that would be on the leading edge of demand and could meet their personal creative needs and those of their colleagues in the industry.”

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But even though Jackson is moving on to different things, there was a moment when he did consider rejoining the American Idol team, but not as a judge. “They wanted me to take Ryan Seacrest's job, because they said 'Look man, look, you got it. You know how to do it, dog,'” Jackson told Entertainment Tonight. “I would only host with Ryan. He's my friend. You know let's see — Kelly and Ryan, Ryan and Randy. Oh man. It's gonna work man. I feel it!”

But, though Ryan Seacrest is returning as the host of the show, Jackson has not signed on to be a judge. Instead, a new trio has been formed, comprised of mega-superstars Katy Perry, Lionel Richie, and Luke Bryan. And, even though Randy Jackson will not be returning to the reboot, he still seems excited that American Idol will be back on the air. "Listen, it's a great show. I think it's still the best of its kind ever, so I'm really happy, you know what I mean?" he told ET. "It's a great, great show. I'm sure it's gonna be fun.”

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Jackson was an Idol judge from the show's very beginning, and was the last of the original three judges to leave the show in 2014. Jackson told Rolling Stone that the chemistry between the original cast, and their relative obscurity, helped make the show such a success:

"In the very beginning, I think we got incredibly lucky because the chemistry between me, Ryan, Simon and Paula was just magical from the start. And I think that none of us knew it could be that, but we had a hunch. And I think we had that chemistry and just got incredibly lucky ... Most importantly, there was a bit of an earnestness to us because we weren't already all celebrities. I mean, Paula was the only one who was sort of a celebrity at that time but me, Simon and Ryan weren't really celebrities. I think that helped us tremendously because you can have an honest and fair view of it and tell it more like you see it and more like it is. It started as the most honest entertaining show because it's surrounded all of our unique personalities and qualities."

Jackson was a notable producer and bass player before he began his Idol gig, working with bands like Journey to pop stars like Madonna and Mariah Carey, per Rolling Stone. This insider knowledge and experience helped him give thoughtful feedback to contestants.

But of course, Jackson is most famous for his catchphrases and absolute inability to keep as straight face when faced with a less-than-talented audition.

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While Idol fans miss him terribly, it seems like Jackson is on to new and exciting things. But he still feels that the shape of Idol would have been very different without him, and fans wouldn't have it any other way. He told Rolling Stone:

"As far as I'm concerned, along with all the executives at Fox and Fremantle and CAA and everybody, the four of us helped to build and shape the show as well: the comments that we made; the stuff that we helped with the production; the whatever. So when you are the creator, it's different than the inhabitant of the creation."

Perry, Richie, and Bryan are the next ones up to inhabit that creation, and though there might be considerably less calls of "in it to win it" on the new American Idol, with a new network and a fresh start, this new panel might shape the show and make it their own.