Although FOX execs Peter Rice and Kevin Reilly insisted with they're still in the early stages of adapting to "American Idol" life without Paula Abdul, the smash hit show has moved quickly to at least temporarily replace the "Cold-Hearted Snake" singer.
Rice and Reilly told television critics on Thursday (Aug. 6) morning that the third judging chair will be filled by a revolving assortment of guests during the audition rounds. In order to keep at least some semblance of Paula continuity, those judges will all [hopefully] be well-known female musical figures.
The only names the FOX executives were prepared to announce, fewer than 36 hours after Paula Abdul first tweeted about her "American Idol" exit, were Victoria Beckham and Katy Perry who are, indeed, well-known female musical figures.
Rice say that it was possible that the revolving door of guest judges could continue into the season or that "American Idol" might go into the season with just Simon Cowell, Randy Jackson and Kara DioGuardi on the judging panel, but he said that neither situation is probable.
Instead, "American Idol" will view the search for a fourth judge as just another casting assignment, attempting to recreate the chemistry Abdul had with the other judges, while generating new chemistry. Both execs expressed confident that the "Idol" producers would be able to keep the show on solid footing, even without Abdul.
Of Abdul's "Idol" departure, Rice said, "It's something that is very saddening to us," a sentiment he repeated multiple times. He also repeated multiple times that FOX had hoped to have Abdul back and that the move to formalize the parting of ways was her idea.
Earlier in the press day, former "Idol" executive producer Nigel Lythgoe suggested that he isn't so sure that that Abdul is really done at "Idol." Asked if the door is still open at least a crack for her return, Rice would only say that they've concluded their negotiations and Abdul has said she isn't coming back. That's not the same as a "no."