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Is JLo Really Leaving 'Idol'? Nigel Lythgoe Isn't So Sure
July 23, 2012  | By Bill Brioux

Editor's Note: In a subsequent TCA session, Fox Broadcasting comapny entertainment president Kevin Reilly confirmed that Jennifer Lopez has, indeed, left American Idol, and announced that Mariah Carey will join the show as a judge for the show's upcoming season. See update below...

BEVERLY HILLS, CA—Nigel Lythgoe thinks Jennifer Lopez may not be leaving American Idol after all.

In a classic press tour, negotiate-in-public ploy, the executive producer planted the idea toward the end of a Fox session on his other show, So You Think You Can Dance.

“I was really upset to hear that Steven [Tyler] was leaving,” he said, “and the possibility of Jennifer leaving us … it’s a strange thing to say 99%.”

Lythgoe was referring to Lopez’s quote that she was “99%” leaving Idol.

“I hope that 1% may mean she’s not leaving,” said the wily Brit.

Fox has been curiously quiet about Lopez’s departure. Clarification may come later today from network entertainment president Kevin Reilly in the Fox executive session.

Lythgoe then turned around in the post-session scrum and said he thinks Idol judges should change every year. Create interest and avoid raises, he seemed to suggest. “I tried to deflect everything by saying the Three Stooges [could be the next judges],” he told reporters. His earlier suggestion that Charlie Sheen join the series as a judge was likely also a joke.

Certainly an annual changing of the judges would add some “Who’s in, Who’s out” buzz to the 10-year-old franchise.

Lythgoe isn’t even sure he’s still in. His Idol producing contract is up and next year’s terms are “still being negotiated,” he said.


BEVERLY HILLS, CA—Forget that J-Lo stays story — Mariah Carey has been signed to be the diva judge next season on American Idol.

Fox network entertainment president Kevin Reilly made the announcement today before critics at the TCA press tour, squashing a rumor started just two sessions earlier that Jennifer Lopez might not be leaving.

It was Idol producer Nigel Lythgoe who tossed that juicy little hand grenade, but Reilly told critics that was just Lythgoe's personal feelings speaking. "I can say it's 100% that Jennifer won't be on the show," said Reilly.

He admitted later in the scrum that the door hadn't been slammed shut earlier and that efforts were made to try and keep Lopez. But, hey, she's busy, said Reilly, and when it looked too sticky, the network went in another direction.

Reilly actually called Carey on his cell phone and let critics in on a quick conversation with the singer — although the connection was so bad, it might as well have been Drew Carey.

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