Seven reasons Fox hasn't signed an "Idol" judge

Thu Aug 12, 2010 1:02pm EDT
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By James Hibberd

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - Simon Cowell declared he's leaving "American Idol" back in January.

Now it's a few weeks before the "Idol" judging panel goes before the cameras on the show's audition trail, and there's still no replacement named.

Oh, and Fox needs to replace Ellen DeGeneres too. And probably Kara DioGuardi.

Why is hiring a TV talent show judge (or two, or three) taking so long?

Sources say there are at least seven variables at play:

1. Chasing celebrities: If Fox tried to replace Cowell with somebody like Cowell -- a snarky record producer with a well-trained ear for spotting talent -- all this would have been over months ago. And with far less interesting results. Fox is intent on hiring somebody so famous that they don't need to judge "Idol." And anybody who fits that bill is going to want...

2. Money: Top-pick Elton John wanted too much. Now, by one report, Jennifer Lopez's deal fell apart due to her so-called "unreasonable" demands. Sources close to the matter tell The Hollywood Reporter, however, that "nothing is off the table" regarding Lopez and that Fox has not given up on her. At the end of his run, Cowell was making an estimated $36 million a year judging "Idol," but was also a proven ratings draw. Fox has to weigh how much they want to pay a famous face for a job the person has never attempted. Lopez asked for north of $20 million -- plus her own hair, makeup, styling team and her own "dressing room compound" (not dissimilar to Cowell's posh trailer). But the network does not want to pay Simon dollars for a newcomer who is going to be the show's, ahem, X factor.

3. A crowded kitchen: Any major "Idol" decision is like a Quickfire Challenge on "Top Chef" -- cooks, cooks, running everywhere, all with their own list of ingredients. The word "chaos" is oft-used to describe these ongoing conversations. You have Fox president of alternative entertainment Mike Darnell, along with entertainment chairman Peter Rice. There's 19 Entertainment chief and "Idol" creator Simon Fuller, along with returning executive producer Nigel Lythgoe. Don't forget Fremantle Media president and "Idol" executive producer Cecile Frot-Coutaz. And producers and network executives aren't the only ones with a vote...   Continued...