Mariah Carey brings superstar status to "American Idol"

Mon Jul 23, 2012 6:10pm EDT
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By Lisa Richwine and Jill Serjeant

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Grammy-winning pop star Mariah Carey will join Fox television's "American Idol" singing contest as a judge next season as the highly rated show fights to regain its slumping audiences.

Kevin Reilly, president of entertainment for Fox Broadcasting, told television critics on Monday in Los Angeles that popular singer Carey will be one of the replacements for departing judges Steven Tyler and Jennifer Lopez.

Tyler, the front man for rock band Aerosmith, announced his exit earlier this month to focus on his revived music career. Lopez, too, has hinted at her departure in recent weeks and, on Monday, Reilly confirmed she will not return for the upcoming season.

"I can say it is 100 percent that Jennifer won't be back to the show," Reilly said.

Reilly said the deal with Carey was finalized early on Monday and, in a dramatic move for TV critics at the conference, he called the singer on his cell phone to announce the deal.

"Hi Mariah. How are you? I have just uttered your name for the first time. We do have a deal, don't we?" Reilly said.

Carey, answering on speakerphone, said: "I am so excited to be joining 'Idol'... I wish I could have been there myself to tell you, but this all kind of just happened. I can't wait to get started."

Reilly declined to comment on the status of Randy Jackson - the only original member of the show's judging panel - but said he expected to announce a second new judge within the next two weeks, adding that some of "the biggest names in the business are interested in doing the job."   Continued...

Singer Mariah Carey arrives at the 82nd Academy Awards in Hollywood in this March 7, 2010 file photo. Pop star Carey will join Fox television's "American Idol" singing competition as a new judge next season, network executive Kevin Reilly said on July 23, 2012. REUTERS/Brian Snyder/Files