Fox leaves "American Idol" guessing game wide open

Mon Aug 2, 2010 4:34pm EDT
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By Jill Serjeant

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Fox TV executives threw the "American Idol" guessing game over a new panel of judges wide open on Monday, refusing to confirm or deny reports that singers Jennifer Lopez or Steven Tyler would join the top-rated show for its upcoming 10th season.

Fox entertainment chairman Peter Rice told TV journalists there were no signed deals in place with anyone "on either side of the camera".

He also refused to speculate on reports that songwriter Kara DioGuardi had been fired as a judge, or that executive producer Nigel Lythgoe was returning to "Idol" to carry out a wholesale make-over after four years of declining ratings.

"There are no signed deals with anybody," Rice said. "I can tell you that much of the information (in the media) is accurate and some of it is wildly inaccurate. I am not going to confirm or deny which ones they are," he added.

Rice said he expected a panel to be in place by the time auditions start in front of the judges in mid-September.

Speculation about the new line-up reached fever pitch last week after the shock announcement that Ellen DeGeneres would not be returning after just one year of her five year contract.

That left "Idol" producers with two spots to fill after the exit in May of acerbic British judge Simon Cowell, and fueled talk that a wider overhaul of the TV search for a new pop star was underway.

Other names of potential judges have included singers Jessica Simpson, Justin Timberlake and Sir Elton John.   Continued...