Here we go again. Several publications are reporting that it's a "done deal" — Aerosmith's Steven Tyler will be the next "American Idol" judge.
Meanwhile, Fox is circling the wagons, refusing comment. In fact, most of Fox and Fremantle's spokespeople are "out of the office."
But E! Online, Hollywood Reporter and Deadline — even "The Today Show" — all claim to have sources confirming that the deal with Tyler has signed on the dotted line to take one of the vacant judging slots created by the departures of Simon Cowell and Ellen DeGeneres.
An individual close to Tyler told TheWrap Monday night that nothing was complete, that there were too many issues to be dealt with, including Aerosmith's tour obligations, and strain already existing in the band over Tyler's drug use and rehab, and jealousy over the looming "Idol" gig.
However, when asked about the reports of the signing Tuesday morning, the individual would only say: "It was complicated."
Speculation about the "Idol" gig has been a favorite pastime of the Hollywood press this summer, and this isn't the first time there were reports that an "Idol" deal was done.
Deadline started a media frenzy on July 29 when it said the ink was dry on a contract that would bring Jennifer Lopez to the show. The pop diva is indeed in talks — and has been for months — but her contract negotiations have been tricky, and reports of that deal were premature.
At the same time the inaccurate Lopez news exploded, there were early reports that Tyler would be the third panelist. But this Tyler news looks like it may actually be the real deal. An individual close to the star confirmed to TheWrap that the rocker was indeed in talks to take an "Idol" job earlier this month.
At the annual TCA summer press tour Aug. 2, Fox chairman Peter Rice said new "Idol" judges hadn't been signed but that the network would have a deal signed in time for the main auditions in September. And on Tuesday, a Fox executive indicated the same thing to TheWrap: that the audition process had begun but that the new judge would not be needed until "mid to late September."
Based on these comments it seems feasible that "Idol" producers would have been able to work around Tyler's tour schedule; the band's current North American tour ends in Sept. 16 in Vancouver.
The most telling indicator that the reports of an "Idol" deal are accurate is the deafening silence on the matter coming from show insiders. Fox declined to comment on the reports, as has been its longstanding policy with "Idol" speculation, but the rest of the show's brass claimed to be unreachable.
Through assistants, several executives at Fox and Fremantle, the production company behind "Idol" claimed to be at medical appointments or otherwise unavailable. "Idol" executive producer Ken Warwick did not respond to emails or phone calls from TheWrap. Tyler's manager Tyler's publicist, Bianca Bianconi responded to a request for comment with an incriminating automated out-of-office message saying she was, "working in Los Angeles all week."
Aerosmith currently has a day off from touring after a gig in Toronto Tuesday night. Their next concert is in Omaha, Neb., on Thursday.