Yahoo! is reporting that, after much speculation and contemplation, singer-actress Jennifer Lopez is leaving American Idol after 2 seasons, following Aerosmith frontman Steven Tyler out the door. Yahoo! & Us Magazine are also reporting that the lone original judge left, Randy Jackson, may leave the judges' table, too, moving into a mentoring role for season 12, still ticketed to start in January, meaning that the entire panel will have gotten a makeover.
There are rumors floating involving a past Idol runner-up, Adam Lambert, who would conceivably fill Tyler's chair, or Jackson's if he does step away, and singers Mariah Carey and Sarah Ferguson, aka Fergie of the Black Eyed Peas, and no stranger to talent contests (as a member of Wild Orchid, Ferguson hosted the kid-centric Great Pretenders, which came and went before Idol even launched), being the front-runners to take over the judges' table next season.
Carey's selection would be a coincidence since Jackson is her manager, and husband Nick Cannon is the host of NBC's America's Got Talent, which, while not a direct competitor, is cut from the same basic cloth. Mariah would almost certainly be placed in the chair occupied by Lopez, and before her, Ellen DeGeneres & Paula Abdul.
Yesterday, I wrote that it wouldn't be out of the question for producers to invite Abdul back after three years away, and that's still possible if talks with the other candidates fall through. It should be noted that X Factor, which dumped Paula after 1 year, is skewing younger with Britney Spears and Demi Lovato (ex-Sonny With A Chance) filling the seats vacated by Abdul and Nicole Scherzinger (who is doing the UK version of Factor) for season 2 in the fall.
I still think, though, that the clock is ticking, and no amount of changes can prevent the inevitable from happening.