photo: FoxJennifer Lopez has cried wolf before--last year, she hinted that she might leave "American Idol" after her first season--but sources are now telling E!'s Marc Malkin that she is planning to quit the show after Season 11 ends next week, because she is "too busy." A rep for Fox declined to comment on E!'s story at this time.
J.Lo definitely is one busy lady--besides being the mother of twins and promoting her upcoming movie, What To Expect When You're Expecting, she is embarking on a world concert tour with Enrique Iglesias this summer--right around the time that Season 12 "Idol" auditions would start filming. But is Jennifer really planning to leave the show that relaunched her once-flagging career, because she feels she no longer needs the promotion? Or is she simply holding out for more money? Following this week's news that Fox's other singing show, "The X Factor," has hired Britney Spears for a reported $15 million--the same salary that J.Lo reportedly earns right now--it's possible that Jennifer is just hoping for a raise, so she can declare that she is THE highest-paid reality judge on Fox.
While Jennifer has not officially resigned from "Idol," she did tell former "Idol" judge Ellen DeGeneres this week (as seen around the 2:45 mark in the clip below): "I really do enjoy it...now this is my second year…I don't know if I can go for a third year. I miss doing other things. It really does lock you down. Which was nice the first year with the babies being [young], but now they're more mobile. They're about to go to school. I just don't know. I don't know."
Meanwhile, "Idol" executive producer Nigel Lythgoe has told TMZ that he really hopes J.Lo will sign on for a third season, saying: "We want her back. I want her back...I know how much she loves doing the show and how much she cares for the kids...It's a business. She has to weigh everything. I know she's gotten lots of offers to do movies and other things." So maybe, if Nigel has anything to do with it, Jennifer will get a raise.
The speculation regarding J.Lo's departure has surfaced following Fox entertainment president Kevin Reilly's announcement during this week's Upfronts that "Idol" will undergo "some creative tweaking" in Season 12, after the show's ratings "dropped more than anticipated" this year. While Fox entertainment president Peter Rice said the current "Idol" judging lineup is not the show's problem, insisting that the judges are "terrific and have great chemistry and integrity," it's obvious to some (read: ME) that the Jennifer Lopez/Randy Jackson/Steven Tyler lineup has grown stale, and--due to the insufferably sweet trio's apparent inability and/or refusal to be brutally honest--at times almost useless.
I actually would love to see a complete overhaul of "Idol's" judging panel, with straight-shooting in-house mentor Jimmy Iovine, the only truly opinionated cast member on the show, taking a permanent seat at the table. And since "The X Factor" is clearly chasing the younger demographic with new judges like Britney and 19-year-old Disney star Demi Lovato, why not have "Idol" swing to the opposite end of the age spectrum, and hire some seasoned pros, like Stevie Nicks (who was an amazing guest mentor this season), Ann Wilson, Pat Benatar, or Cher? Or even Elton John, as "Idol" execs supposedly attempted to do before? Or how about Ben Folds, whose "Sing-Off" show just got cancelled? He'd probably do it for a lot less than $15 million, but he'd be worth every penny Fox paid him.
Watch this space for more news on Jennifer Lopez's possible exit and other future "Idol" shakeups.