Ellen DeGeneres out on "American Idol"; J-Lo in?
[This entry has been updated]
Ellen DeGeneres is out on "American Idol."
DeGeneres will not return as a judge on the hit singing competition series, Fox announced Thursday. And more judge changes are in store as the network tries to stem the show's alarming loss of viewers.
Meanwhile, Jennifer Lopez appears to be the show's new Paula Abdul. J-Lo's career has been on the fast track to nowhere of late and, according to the Web site Deadline.com, she's brokered a deal to step in and replace Ellen, who, in turn, had replaced Paula last season. But some sources said it was not yet a done deal. A Fox rep declined to comment.
For J-Lo, a move to "Idol" would mark a return to the Fox network. Like Paula, J-Lo was a dancer first; she got her big TV break as a back-up dancer on the network's "In Living Color" sketch comedy show in the '90s. Most recently, the singer/dancer/actress appeared in the flick "The Back-Up Plan," which was a far cry from her 1997 starring role in "Selena."
Sources say the suits behind the show were happy with Ellen's exit. On Thursday, they handed her the knife, issuing a statement saying DeGeneres "has decided to bow out from her role as a judge on 'American Idol' next season" which included a quote from Ellen in which she said that a couple of month ago she told Fox and the show's producers she didn't think she was "the right fit" for the show.
The announcement even included a quote from the usually buttoned-down Peter Rice, chairman of entertainment at Fox Networks Group, in which he effused, "We love Ellen and understand and support her decision to bow out of 'Idol'."
However it happened, the good news -- the thing for us to focus on -- is that Ellen is gone. Monday, Fox's day at Summer TV Press Tour 2010, is going to be major with the remaining "Idol" judges' status on everyone's minds, such as they are.
Sources say the swap-out of Ellen, who survived just one season on the show, is not the producers' last move. We already know Simon Cowell is gone, and Kara DioGuardi's contract had not been renewed as of press time.
And Nigel Lythgoe, who has returned to the show in an oversight capacity, had been advocating for a gut job. Lythgoe, who executive produced "Idol" for many years before leaving in summer of '08 to focus exclusively on "So You Think You Can Dance," was no fan of the judging panel.
This past season -- Ellen's first and, as it turns out last, Lythgoe was the show's most outspoken critics, telling pretty much anyone who would listen, including Zap2it.com last April, "I would replace the entire judging panel."
"They don't' have a great deal of chemistry at the moment," he said, stating the obvious, of Randy Jackson, Ellen, Kara, and Simon.
"It's uncomfortable to watch," Lythgoe said, speaking for us all, adding, "Ellen hasn't worked out as well as we would have hoped."
Ellen was a bad fit from the get go. The comic-turned-sitcom-star-turned-daytime-talk- show-host started her new "Idol" judging career on the same day Simon came to Winter TV Press Tour 2010 to announce he was quitting the show.
DeGeneres was never comfortable performing the responsibilities of an "Idol" judge. Cheerleader yes -- judge no, and her pre-written gags almost always fell with a thud on performance nights.
In that interview back in April, Lythgoe blue-skied that if he could get any judge lineup he wanted on "Idol" it would be: Usher, Elton John and Justin Timberlake.
Not coincidentally, their names have all turned up in recent speculation as to who will replace Simon on the singing competition, which has seen its ratings sink dramatically the past couple seasons, though it remains the country's most watched program.
But the latest reports have Steven Tyler front-running the list of possible Simon replacements.
Other pop culture talent who'd been spit-balled as Reporters Who Cover Television played Let's Re-Cast "Idol" included Chris Isaak, Harry Connick Jr., and Jessica Simpson. And, let's not forget Bret Michaels, Howard Stern -- and, of course, Donald Trump .
Lisa de Moraes
July 29, 2010; 8:13 PM ET
Categories: "American Idol" , TV News
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