Soul great Aretha Franklin says wants to judge "American Idol"
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - "Queen of Soul" Aretha Franklin said on Saturday that she is interested in joining "American Idol" as a judge, just days after Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler declared they have ended their judging roles on the Fox show.
The departure of Lopez and Tyler creates a major void in the three-judge panel on "Idol," which remains the most-watched television show contest in the United States but has seen its ratings slump in recent years.
In response to an email question asking Franklin whether she is interested in joining "Idol" as a judge or a mentor, the singer responded, "Yes I am interested as a judge!"
Franklin, 70, is the legendary singer of 1960s hits such as "Respect," "Chain of Fools" and "Baby I Love You." She has won 18 Grammys during her career, and in 1987 she became the first woman inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Representatives from Fox and FreemantleMedia, the production company behind "Idol," could not be reached for comment late on Saturday.
Tyler, the lead singer of Aerosmith who joined "Idol" two seasons ago along with pop singer Lopez, announced on Thursday that he would not return for the fall season. A day later, Lopez told "Idol" host Ryan Seacrest in a radio interview that she would be following Tyler out the door.
That leaves on the judging panel only Randy Jackson, who has been with the program since its inception in 2002 when he was on the panel with Simon Cowell and Paula Abdul. They have since moved on to the American version of "The X Factor," another singing contest.
It remains unclear if Jackson will stay on with "Idol."
The May season finale of "Idol" drew 21.2 million viewers, well off its highs of more than 30 million in the show's heyday.
(Reporting By Alex Dobuzinskis; Editing by Eric Walsh)
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