Who will replace Lopez, Tyler on 'American Idol'?

Associated Press Modified: July 14, 2012 at 10:01 am •  Published: July 14, 2012
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LOS ANGELES (AP) — Mariah Carey, Celine Dion and Mary J. Blige are among the heady names being tossed around as potential judges for "American Idol" after Steven Tyler and Jennifer Lopez skipped out on next season.

Star power, after all, is what judges add to TV talent shows that otherwise feature unknowns whose performances can range from surprisingly good to stunningly awful.

But Fox's "American Idol," trying to right itself after shedding viewers in its 11th season, may also need to play a numbers game — as in the age of the judges brought in to revitalize a show whose audience is getting smaller and older, neither a plus for advertisers.

"They need judges who will resonate with young people," said media analyst Brad Adgate.

Carey, Dion and Blige, undeniably winning stars, all are in their early 40s.

The median age for the "American Idol" audience rose above 50 last season, the first time ever, and Adgate suggests it take a page from "The X Factor" playbook, as devised by its creator and producer, Simon Cowell.

"Cowell beat them to the punch" by hiring Britney Spears and Demi Lovato after "X Factor," the Fox version of Cowell's British hit, stumbled in its debut last season. Spears, 30, and Lovato, 19, replaced Paula Abdul, 50, and Nicole Scherzinger, 34.

(Worth noting: The male judges, Cowell, 52, and producer Antonio "L.A." Reid, 56, are staying put for season two.)

Lopez announced her departure on Friday, a day after Tyler (an unlikely senior statesman at 64) said he was leaving "American Idol" to concentrate on his role as Aerosmith's frontman. Both appeared for two seasons.

"I honestly feel like the time has come that I have to get back to doing the other things that I do that I've put kind of on hold because I love 'Idol' so much," the 42-year-old actress-singer-dancer told "Idol" host Ryan Seacrest on his radio show.

Fox may be scouting for an entirely new panel, with some reports suggesting that original "Idol" judge Randy Jackson, 56, could shift to another role while Carey, whom he manages, becomes a judge. Jackson's and Carey's publicists did not respond to requests for comment.

The makeover comes at a critical time. In May, "American Idol" posted its lowest-rated finale ever after a season that marked its poorest showing yet among young adult viewers age 18 to 49. A pattern of overall declining viewership continued for the show, which fell from the No. 1 spot for the first time since the 2005-06 season, placing second to NBC's "Sunday Night Football."

"Idol" needs to stem its audience losses and level out, Adgate said, which would be enough to keep it a Top 10 program and a "force to be reckoned with."

Among the younger possibilities who might help, 19-year-old Miley Cyrus fits the Lovato mold. Speculation also has focused on former "Idol" winner Carrie Underwood, 29, and finalists Jennifer Hudson and Adam Lambert, both 30.

Lambert addressed the possibility this week in an interview in London, where he appeared in concert with Queen.

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