Fox chairman Peter Rice on replacements for Ellen DeGeneres and Simon Cowell: “There are no deals signed yet”
Fox chairman Peter Rice walked into the annual TCA summer press tour facing major questions about changes at the "American Idol" judges table, but the executive had no announcements to make about changes on the hit show at monday's event.
"There are no deals signed yet," Rice said.
"Idol" judge Simon Cowell announced his departure from the show in January. Since then, there have been widespread rumors and speculation about his potential replacement, with names such as Elton John, Chris Isaak, and music executive Tommy Mottola regularly surfacing.
Last Thursday, Fox announced that current "Idol" judge Ellen DeGeneres would also be leaving the show. Rice said Ellen decided to make her exit because, "she wasn't comfortable, she didn't feel like it was a good fit for her."
"I tried to persuade her that it would be different in the future, but later we came to an agreement that we would look for new judges," Rice said.
Rice told the reporters at TCA that the search will be wrapped up in time for "Idol's" main auditions in September.
Since DeGeneres announced her departure, widespread rumors have circulate that Jennifer Lopez and Aerosmith rocker Steven Tyler had been selected to fill one of the two vacant judging slots on "Idol," but Rice dashed cold water on those rumors.
"I truly wish we were going to walk out a panel of judges for next year … I'm really sorry that's not going to happen. If we had signed deals for next year we would have done that," Rice said to the press gathered at TCA.
There has also been speculation that as the show enters its tenth season, "Idol" will return to its three judge format. That would leave Randy Jackson as the sole returning judge. In that scenario, Kara DioGuardi, the singer-songwriter who was brought on board two seasons ago, would leave the show.
The judges table isn't the only area where "American Idol" is making changes for next season. Last week, reports surfaced that original "Idol" executive producer Nigel Lythgoe had signed a deal to rejoin the show as an executive producer for the first time since 2008.
TheWrap later exclusively reported that the ink was not dry on Lythgoe's deal and that he would be acting as the representative for "Idol" production company CKX/19 Television when he returns to the show.
Rice confirmed that Lythgoe's contract isn't a done deal either at TCA Monday.
"There are no deals signed … on either side of the camera," Rice said when asked about Lythgoe.