"American Idol" Judging News: Ellen DeGeneres Out, Jennifer Lopez In?

7/30/2010 Posted by Admin

"American Idol" Judging News: Ellen DeGeneres Out, Jennifer Lopez In?

By our guest blogger, Catherine Fuentes

Although "American Idol" runs from January to May, there really never is an offseason to this pop culture phenomenon. This summer has been filled with gossip on the judges’ contracts and speculations as to who will be taking Simon’s seat at the judges’ table.

It is old news that Simon Cowell will not be returning to judge the show that made him a household name in America. However, his replacement has been constant celebrity and entertainment gossip fodder this summer. Elton John and Justin Timberlake are topping the gossip lists as frontrunners in the race to Simon’s seat, and tons of critics have been weighing in.

Although I have wanted a music industry insider to take Simon’s place, preferably a producer with years of business experience, much like Simon, I am not averse to either of these two taking his seat. I prefer Elton to Justin, as I think he will bring Simon’s famed sharp tongue to the table, and he has incomparable years of experience in the industry. As far as producers go, this spring I heard rumors of Steve Lillywhite being a contender. While this is a long shot and I haven’t heard them since, I like these rumors. He’s not a household name, but neither was Simon, Randy or Kara.

However, I am hearing that Aerosmith’s frontman Steven Tyler has been given an offer to take Simon’s seat. Although these rumors are uncomfirmed, I really like imagining him at the helm of the judges table, and think it can bring an interesting spin to the judging, especially now that contestants with a rock-ish lean tend to fare better than others.

The big news of this week comes as a shock to everyone. Ellen DeGeneres, who reportedly had a very expensive multi-year contract, has left the show after one season. She cites finding giving harsh criticism and sometimes hurting contestants’ feelings and balancing her work schedule as the difficulties that led her to break her contract. What "Idol" fans didn’t realize was that these talks have been going on between Ellen, "Idol" producers and Fox execs for several months.

Deadline.com is reporting that Jennifer Lopez will be taking Ellen’s seat. While I feel this sort of came out of left field, I really like this. In season six, her guidance made Sanjaya sound good for the first and only time in his career. Plus she is warm, has great experience as a marketable pop star, and hey, she’s still Jenny from the Block, and can probably dish out tough but fair criticism.

This week we also learned that Kara DioGuardi does not have a remaining contract, so her return in January is not guaranteed. While Randy Jackson has time remaining on his, Ellen’s departure indicates nothing is set in stone. There have been some rumors that producers would like all standing judges to leave, and start with an entirely clean slate. In all honesty, this wouldn’t be the worst idea. "American Idol" as it currently stands is feeling pretty stale, and last season, the judges didn’t really bring out the best in any of the contestants. Maybe new blood will give the show the added oomph it so desperately needs. Additionally, there are also rumors that with judges shuffling around, Paula Abdul might return to the table. While I feel this is unlikely, I missed her more than I ever would have guessed last season.

Other celebrities who have taken meetings with Idol producers in recent weeks include Jessica Simpson (please, God, no), Harry Connick Jr. (would really love this), Chris Isaak (wouldn’t complain), Jamie Foxx (I think he’s been a let down as a mentor), Bret Michaels (might really love and he has talent show judging experience with "Nashville Star"), P Diddy (might be great, might be awful, but wants Simon’s paycheck, so it’s not going to happen) and Perez Hilton (I’d rather stick blades in my eyes)

Look for big announcements to be made on Monday when Fox gives their Television Critics Tour to press. A huge judging announcement will give Fox a huge publicity boost when all the major networks are vying for coverage.

Who do you think should judge Season 10 of "American Idol"?

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