Oh Snap! ‘American Idol’ Reportedly Tried To FIRE Mariah Carey And REHIRE Jennifer Lopez!


Oh man … there is a news story out today via The Hollywood Reporter that alleges that American Idol producers were so desperate to fix the show’s embarrassingly low ratings this season that they reportedly tried to execute a plan that would’ve FIRED Mariah Carey as judge midseason and replace her with the very ratings popular ex-Idol judge Jennifer Lopez. The only reason the plan didn’t happen, according to the report, is because Mimi’s lawyers threatened to SUE the Hell out of the show if they even tried. Now, if this report had come from a less reputable publication, I don’t know that I would necessarily believe it … because it sounds like a crazy (and contractually illegal, I might add) shake-up fantasy. But coming from THR, I believe every word of it. Click below to learn more about this tale of dismal TV ratings and the reported desperation that pushed producers to want to axe Mariah for J. Lo.

With ratings in a steep slide, American Idol producers and Fox executives in recent weeks hatched a dramatic plan to jumpstart the show: replace judge Mariah Carey with Jennifer Lopez, according to knowledgeable sources. These sources tell The Hollywood Reporter that Carey, who was touted as the big new addition to the judge’s panel this year, responded with a threat of litigation. With that, the plan was dropped, though Idol’s producers still are negotiating with Lopez, who served as a popular judge during the past two seasons, to appear on the show’s finale in May. And insiders say a search already has begun to replace Carey, most likely Nicki Minaj and possibly the entire judge’s panel for next season. “This is just another ridiculous Idol judge rumor, likely started by talks of Jennifer performing on the finale,” a Fox spokeswoman tells THR in a statement. Producer Fremantle NorthAmerica declines to comment. A rep for Carey denies these allegations. Idol producer Nigel Lythgoe tells THR: “I have not been included in any conversation regarding replacing Mariah with Jen this season.” American Idol kicked off its 12th season on solid enough footing. Earning a 6.0 rating with adults 18-49 and 17.9 million total viewers in its January return, the 17 percent dip was less precipitous than some of the bigger drops in recent years. But the months since have been less kind. The Wednesday performance show is currently averaging a 4.3 rating with adults 18-49, its worst performance since its inaugural season in 2001. And it is dropping nearly every week. Even worse for Idol, the robust reboot of NBC’s The Voice with Shakira and Usher recently has seen ratings climb to a 5.2 rating in the demo during the same week Idol bottomed out with a series low 2.8 rating. Adding insult to injury, Idol made headlines last week when preliminary numbers showed its total viewers for a results show was beaten by a repeat of CBS’ The Big Bang Theory.


Sources say Fox reality chief Mike Darnell and Fremantle’s Cecile Frot-Coutaz have been especially concerned about the Idol ratings trajectory, and they hoped that a surprise shake-up on the judges’ panel would help. Carey, a multiplatinum and Grammy-winning singer, is perhaps Idol’s most pedigreed judge ever. But despite her eight-figure salary, she has seemed passive and disengaged in her comments on the show, failing to generate the kind of fan following that Lopez had when she judged. By contrast, Minaj has turned into Idol’s sharp-tongued firebrand, especially seated next to more vanilla judge Keith Urban and stalwart Randy Jackson. Nonetheless, internal Fox research is said to show that Minaj is not a hit with some of the show’s audience. “The core viewer is a midwestern, Southern, older woman who is threatened by Nicki’s aggressiveness,” says one knowledgeable source. Producers are said to have pushed for the pairing of Carey and Minaj, thinking it would provide for a panel of diverse opinions and make for good TV if they were in conflict. But Idol insiders fear the dynamic has turned off some loyal fans. Since producers backed off their plan to shake up the show mid-season, attention is said to have already turned to next season. A source who has been approached as a possible judge replacement tells THR that Idol producers are looking for “not necessarily a star” to join the show. That might include a music professional with strong credentials.

I mean, if true … what the Hell where Idol producers thinking? There is no way that Mariah Carey would’ve allowed this ridiculous plan to happen. I mean, just to save face alone, there is no way Mimi would’ve left the show to let J. Lo take her place. I also don’t see how the return of J. Lo could’ve turned ratings around. American Idol has been so lackluster in recent years, I don’t know if anyone can really turn things around. IMHO, The Voice is doing so well because it features the novelty of the turning chairs and the competitive nature of the show is amped to the highest degree. People love that kind of stuff. In regards to Mariah’s performance on the show, I agree that her critiques have been pretty non-existant. There is no question, Mariah is the most successful, the most lauded judge on ANY competitive singing show around … but that doesn’t mean that she makes for good TV. Nicki Minaj gets all of the attention because she is animated and very active … but I can see how Middle America (the bulk of Idol viewers) might be turned off by such brash and sassiness. I think it’s pretty safe to assume that the entire judging panel on Idol is getting the boot next season so it’ll be interesting to see where the show goes from here. I, personally, have started watching Idol again (for the first time since the first season) ONLY because Mariah Carey and Nicki Minaj are on the show. Apparently, I’m in the minority. Even tho she doesn’t need the sympathy, I do feel bad for Mimi that this story got out … I’m sure it’s a huge blow to her ego to have people think she was almost dumped for Jenny from the Block.

And you just know that Nicki Minaj is somewhere laughing her ASS off right now.


  • Kiki1976

    The producers aren’t doing themselves any favors by denying this. Or any kind of shake up, for that matter. If you have a show with a huge ratings slide over the course of so many years, you’d be pretty stupid NOT to make a change. And I think the reason The Voice is such a huge draw, is that they don’t mess around with all the bullshit. No ridiculous auditions, or over-dramatic elevator rides to the top to see if you’ve made it to the next step. The Voice artists are truely talented from the get go. And the judges genuinely want to help them succeed. A classier, more mature show in my opinion. (And I’m from the midwest.)

    • @Kiki976 — “I think the reason The Voice is such a huge draw, is that they don’t mess around with all the bullshit. No ridiculous auditions, or over-dramatic elevator rides to the top to see if you’ve made it to the next step.”

      Excellent point. The auditions process on Idol and X-Factor is a farce. Cutting out the bullshit is exactly why The Voice is in the lead, well said.

    • supercute

      I completely agree! Not to mention that the caliber of talent seems much higher with The Voice than Idol. I feel like most of the people who don’t make it through the blind auditions could easily be a winner on Idol.

    • Lulu

      Let not forget that they are coaches on the voice, not just judges. I gave up on AI years ago.. Whats the point when they don’t really teach them anything?!

  • Ashley

    Yikes is right! This report is too funny! I really hope that this is true. I liked American Idol in the beginning but the fake auditions from people just trying to gain their five minutes of fame got old to me really fast, so I quit watching it quite a few seasons ago. I have since gotten into the Voice, which I feel really showcases true talent. The fact that American Idol was banking so hard on the drama between Nicki/Mimi at the beginning simply had me rolling my eyes, so this doesn’t surprise me in the least bit.

  • LiQue

    the show is a mess is more about the judges than about the contestants… and the fight between nicki and mariah ugh!!!

  • Jo

    Agreed Trent! I’m watching this season too, purely due to Mimi & Nicki and I feel bad. The most annoying part of this whole thing is that Keith and Randy aren’t mentioned anywhere. I hate the excessive attention and criticism paid to the female judges and their ‘performance’ and nothing at all about the equally lackluster men.

  • DJ

    I have never seen a single episode of American Idol – no Paula, no Kara, no Ellen, no JLo, no Mariah Scarey. But from the scuttlebutt I hear in the music and TV industries, I can TOTALLY believe they would try to do this. Seriously, when Keith Urban is more interesting than you are, something is wrong with your career!

  • Joanna

    I also agree that there is too much bullshit going on with the other singing shows. It’s more about who will be sitting in the judges chair rather than the talent on stage. The Voice lost two of its judges at the end of last season and two new ones came on with out a big fanfare announcement or drama about who will and won’t be there. It was only announced after the deals were signed and done. NBC didn’t even give us a hint at who else they might have considered. Also there wasn’t a big fight about who was going to get paid what. This is all American Idol and X-Factor are about these days. I do however, feel badly for Mariah Carey though that American Idol believed the ratings slump was her fault and even worse for her if they had gone through with the firing. I’m glad she got her lawyers on the case and would have gone as far as possible to prevent this from happening. This just proves that American Idol isn’t what it once was and should bow out gracefully sooner rather than later.

    • Joanna

      P.S. I haven’t watched the show since Simon’s last season in 2009 for this very reason. Too much drama.

  • ClaireMichelle

    I am also apparently in the minority in that I actually really like Nicki as a judge which surprised me. I like Keith too sometimes. Mariah has been a dissappointment but I am sad for her that this report even came out. Even if it didn’t happen, this is still embarrassing. Harsh. Mariah is a queen though, even if she isn’t a stellar judge. And I am just happy that this season of Idol has some pretty great talent. I look forward to Kree’s career.

  • Jstar

    American Idol needs to go away quietly…it has run its course…

  • Krissy

    American Idol’s ratings have been going straight down hill for a long time now…even when they had JLo on the show. She didnt’ give them a bump, I wonder why they would think bringing her back would help the show.

  • blaqfury

    Well I really haven’t watched American Idol since Reuben won, so I may not be qualified in that aspect to comment, but as someone who tracks TV ratings as a hobby (i embrace my nerdiness), AI hasn’t been anywhere around 4.3 for a loooooooooong time. I think that premiere 6.0 is holding them afloat to average that. They stay in the low 3’s. The Big Bang Theory beats them weekly (even with repeats). AI continues to decline week to week while the Voice increases ratings impressively from week to week.

    Now even though AI’s ratings suck compared to the Voice, AI isn’t going anywhere. even in low 3’s, it’s still one of the best performing shows on Fox (so that should tell you something about Fox’s lineup).lol

  • Matty

    What’s dumber than this rumor? The mainstream media apparently because they are picking it up and running with it. Must be a slow news day. Can people stop and think for a change? All 4 judges have contracts for a year. Unless they do something pretty bad to violate the contracts, the producers can’t get rid of any without facing a major lawsuit. I’m pretty sure all the high priced lawyers over at fox and the show are very well aware of this and so are the shows producers if they have half a brain. Second, this show keeps signing Randy back despite being unpopular with fans for years now. third, does no one see the coincidence here? This story leaks on a performance day and it’s down to the top 4? A little too convenient know? Finally, this show has been in a decline for years, even with the original 3 judges, it declined little by little each year. Now after 12 years, countless rip offs saturating the market, and the producers not changing the format (i.e. The same themes and songs year after year, a lot of talent but no big voice singers that also have tremendous commercial appeal, the one very annoying contestant who always seems to make it to the 6 0r 7, the annoying and arrogant jimmy Iovine..) I could go on and on, but to blame one judge for the shows failure when it has been in a steady decline for years is absurd, and the idea of replacing her with another judge who was let go because she failed to deliver ratings just adds to the absurdity. I remember other “major news outlets” not long that blamed Nicki for the decline. I agree that Nicki was never a good fit due to the fact that she is not a singer and only has a few years of experience. I think that kind of hurt the shows credibility because they may as well have announced they were simply signing a big name. Not critiquing her as a judge, just an observation. Still hard to believe in this day and age people buy into these fabricated stories that are leaked to generate publicity. Even this being leaked by producers doesn’t float with me because I can’t see why they’d want to anger a judge during the season. That alone could give Mariah reason to sue if it were proven I’m sure.

    • Krissy

      “This story leaks on a performance day and it’s down to the top 4? A little too convenient know?”

      Exactly. And Jlo is supposedly going to perform at one of the final shows…so this is promotion.

  • Britney’sBitch

    LMAO if it’s true then I like it. Never was a fan of Mariah.

    But that pic of JLo, tho…lol

  • The truth

    Fox has release a statement saying this was not true and Jennifer was asked to perform on the season finale. I’ve never been a fan of this show but did catch a few episodes because of Mariah. What happen was the stupid video that was release before idol begin turn everybody off. I agree Mariah should never been a judge I blame her dumba– manager Randy Jackson for bringing her on to save his job and his horrible choice in her Career lately. Mariah doesn’t have the personality for the show and they all lack in chemistry. It also didn’t help when Mariah is always the last judge to speak. I mean what else is there to say when 3 others said it all?

  • Lauren xx

    I gave up on Idol when the story broke that the producers allowed a woman who was stalking Paula Abdul in to the auditions. INTO THE ROOM WITH PAULA. Purely for ratings and entertainment. No one deserves to be treated like that by their employer, even if they are making millions. AI has disgusted me from that point on, and then it continued to get stale with the same types of singers singing the exact playlist every single season.

  • Bee

    Even funnier when you remember that Mariah allegedly really dislikes Jlo. LOL