A major shake-up is rattling “American Idol,” which is expected to look very different next season.
Mariah Carey, Nicki Minaj, Keith Urban AND potentially even original judge Randy Jackson may not be returning next season, according to a report from TheWrap.com.
All four judges have options to return for another season, but an insider tells the site that Fox will not be picking them up, and added: “No more big checks for divas.” The pricey plot to boost the show with big names and big voices ultimately ended in big bucks gone bust, as ratings continue to steadily decline. (The “divas” were reportedly lured to the tune of $18 million for Carey; $12 million for Minaj; and $15 million for ex-judge Jennifer Lopez.)
The producers know they need to do something, because the ratings decline is becoming alarming. While “Idol” is still a proverbial cash cow for Fox, it’s way off in the viewership from its peak in Season 6, which hit about 30 million viewers per episode. These days, sagging Season 12 averages 11 million viewers.
“They feel they’ve lost their core audience, and they want it back,” an insider claims.
According to TheWrap’s report, Fox’s plans for “fixing Idol” run deep — even executive producer Nigel Lythgoe is said to be on the chopping block.
Their story also points out that, despite recent rumors, “Idol” is not trying to lure Jennifer Lopez back to the judges’ panel.
Another source confirms that the network is considering blowing up the entire judges’ panel and doing another cast re-boot.
“We want to do a whole new panel,” a source tells E! News. But whether or not all four are fired will ultimately depend on who they can get to sign on as the replacements. Their source also claims producers would love to get the old gang back together like the old days — Simon, Paula and Randy — but that seems unlikely, since Simon Cowell is like a relentless bulldog in his dogged attempts to make his struggling “X Factor” work.
Either way, a serious shake-up on “American Idol” is in the works once again.
Fox has not commented on the reports.