Sources: Jennifer Lopez close to joining 'American Idol'
Lopez is close to signing a deal to join Fox TV's hit singing contest as a judge, a person familiar with the negotiations said late Thursday. The person, who was not authorized to comment publicly, spoke on condition of anonymity.
Actor-singer-dancer Lopez, whose films include "Selena" and "The Back-Up Plan," has appeared as a mentor on "American Idol."
Fox declined comment. Phone and e-mail messages for Lopez's representatives were not immediately returned.
DeGeneres announced earlier Thursday she is leaving the show after one season, following fellow judge Simon Cowell out the door. Fox has yet to announce a replacement for Cowell.
Cowell departed after the season finale in May to start a new talent show for the network. Those under consideration for his spot, according to reports, are a varied group that includes Steven Tyler and Harry Connick Jr.
New faces on the panel could help the show reinvent itself in season 10, as it tries to stem a ratings slide and bring in younger viewers. The "American Idol" audience has been gradually aging, and advertisers prefer to pitch to young adults.
With audition episodes featuring the judging panel set to begin filming in September for the show's return in January, the pressure is on to announce the new judges. On Monday, Fox is scheduled to present its 2010-11 programs to a meeting of the Television Critics Association.
"A couple months ago, I let Fox and the 'American Idol' producers know that this didn't feel like the right fit for me," DeGeneres said in a statement. The comedian-talk show host said she realized that while she "loved discovering, supporting and nurturing young talent, it was hard for me to judge people and sometimes hurt their feelings."
DeGeneres said she told the network she would delay any action until it had time to "figure out where they wanted to take the panel next."
Judge Kara DioGuardi, who was added to the panel two years ago, is not under contract for next year and Fox has not announced whether she'll return. Original judge Randy Jackson is the fourth panel member.
"It was a joy to work with Ellen," said Mike Darnell, president of alternative entertainment for Fox. "She brought an incredible spirit to Idol."
When DeGeneres joined the show as a replacement for Paula Abdul, proclaiming herself a fan of "American Idol" and a pop aficionado, observers noted she didn't bring music industry expertise to her role. Some observers complained she proved more of a cheerleader than an incisive critic in the mold of Cowell.
She had a reported two-year contract.
"American Idol" was the nation's favorite program last season, the seventh time it's held that position. But it showed rare vulnerability, beaten in the weekly ratings several times by ABC's "Dancing with the Stars."
A total of 24.2 million viewers watched the ninth season's final duel between Lee DeWyze and Crystal Bowersox, compared to the nearly 29 million viewers who saw Kris Allen win over Adam Lambert last year.
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