American Idol will return to its original three-judge format with Randy Jackson returning and Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler joining him to critique the show's aspiring singers. According to sources close to the negations, Lopez's contract is finalized and Tyler's is nearly done.
Kara DioGuardi will not return, sources say. And Ellen DeGeneres announced July 29 that she is cutting her stint on the show short citing her commitment to her daytime talk show as well as her unease with having to be mean to aspiring singers as reasons for cutting the gig short.
The show's producer Fremantle and Fox declined to comment.
Nigel Lythgoe, who left the show in 2008 to focus on the network's So You Think You Can Dance, where he is a judge and an executive producer, has also finalized a deal to return to Idol as executive producer, according to a source close to the negotiations.
There has been ongoing speculation about who might be tapped to sit behind the Idol judges table since it was announced last summer that Simon Cowell would exit the show at the end of the most recent season. A slew of names have been bandied about including Howard Stern, Elton John, Sean Combs, Chris Isaak, Justin Timerblake, Jamie Foxx and most recently Jessica Simpson.
American Idol is coming off of what was widely considered a lackluster season that finished down 9% year-to-year. And while the show is still the top-rated program on television, it is seen as vulnerable in the wake of Cowell's exit.
Fox executives will present their fall lineup to the media Aug. 1 at the Television Critics Association summer Press Tour where they are expected to announce the new panel.