Last January, FOX got front page treatment from Simon Cowell's dramatic Television Critics Association press tour announcement that he was leaving "American Idol" and bring "X-Factor" to the network.
 
On Monday (Aug. 1) morning, with many reporters hoping for an announcement of a similar scope regarding the new "American Idol" judging panel, FOX executives could offer only non-commital semi-comments and non-confirmations.
 
"No one has signed a deal yet," FOX Chairman Peter Rice said plainly. 
 
He continued, "There are no signed deals with anybody. There has been tremendous speculation... I can tell you that much of the information that has been written is accurate and some of the information is wildly inaccurate."
 
Rice told the assembled reporters that the network still plans on having the full judging panel in place for filmed auditions in mid-September, but he warned us that he wasn't going to discuss the individual contractual status of anybody associated with "Idol" either past or present.
 
That meant that Rice and Reilly wouldn't confirm the "Idol" futures of Kara DioGuardi or Randy Jackson (she's been rumored to be out, while he's been rumored to be returning), nor would he say if Nigel Lythgoe is returning to "American Idol" as a producer next season. Although no reporter asked for details about where things stand with rumored future judges Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler, it was comfortably assumed that Rice would merely politely decline to speculate.
 
Regarding what the show was looking for in its new judging panel, Rice only said that the goal with "Idol" is "to put on a great television show," noting that judges have to have their own chemistry, while also functioning within the show's overall talent show structure. He wouldn't say whether executives were attempting to cast the new judges with an eye toward securing somebody to fill Cowell's specific role on the panel. Similarly, he noted that in Cowell's absence, "Idol" was going to inevitably evolve as a format, but Rice declined to say what that evolution might include.
 
Stay tuned for more information, or a lack thereof...