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HOME > American Idol > American Idol 10

Fox: 'American Idol' hasn't signed deals yet but much info 'accurate'

By Reality TV World staff, 08/02/2010 

Recent reports about American Idol's judging panel shake-up and the return of former executive producer Nigel Lythgoe are premature, according to Fox.

"The only thing I can tell you is that no one has signed a deal yet on either side of the camera to be on American Idol who wasn't on the show last year," Fox entertainment chairman Peter Rice told reporters at the network's Television Critics Association's summer press tour presentation this morning, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

However that doesn't necessarily mean the reports -- which have claimed Jennifer Lopez and Steve Tyler will join remaining judge Randy Jackson on a three-person panel and Kara DioGuardi will be axed -- aren't true, Rice acknowledged.

"Much of the information [in the media] is accurate and some of it is wildly inaccurate," he said, adding that Fox expects to have Idol's tenth-season judging panel in place and announced by the time the season's nationwide callback auditions begin with the judges begin in mid-September.

Rice declined to comment on reports that DioGuardi will not be returning and also would not confirm Jackson or Lythgoe -- who has widely been reported to be returning as Idol's executive producer after a two-season absence -- will be part of the tenth season, according to The Reporter.

"I can imagine there are a tremendous amount of follow-up questions, I'm not going to get into a fishbowl blow-by-blow account however much fun that might be for you or your readers," he said.

Rice was willing to discuss the departure of Ellen DeGeneres -- whom the network announced last week has decided to leave her American Idol judging role after just a single season.

"In early June, I met with Ellen, and we talked about the season and her feelings about the season, and really about the feeling that she wasn't comfortable, that she didn't feel it was a good fit for her," he told reporters, according to Variety.  "I tried to persuade her it would be different in the future, but ultimately we agreed -- we would (tell her) we can't replace you, or we would feel we can move on without you. And that’s sort of where we got to last week."

After determining American Idol could move on without her, Fox decided to announce her exit to avoid being "disingenuous" during Monday's presentation, according to Rice.

"We felt comfortable we could come up with a panel that would work without Ellen as a judge... And we felt it would be disingenuous to talk about Ellen as a judge (at TCA) when we knew that wouldn't be the case." he said.

"We have met with a tremendous amount of people and discussed (them as potential judges). We never thought it was hard, we just haven't been able to close it in time for [today's presentation]."

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