Ellen DeGeneres won’t return to “American Idol,” Jennifer Lopez to replace her


Variety is reporting that Ellen DeGeneres has pulled out of judging American Idol, saying she “wasn’t comfortable” returning for a second season.

Ellen said:

A couple months ago, I let FOX and the American Idol producers know that this didn’t feel like the right fit for me. I told them I wouldn’t leave them in a bind and that I would hold off on doing anything until they were able to figure out where they wanted to take the panel next. It was a difficult decision to make, but my work schedule became more than I bargained for.

With the exit of Simon Cowell last season, rumors have swirled over who would be next to join the panel of judges. Recent rumblings have included names like Jessica Simpson.

Fox made a statement shortly after Ellen released her own:

We love Ellen and understand and support her decision to bow out of Idol. We were fortunate to receive the humor, energy and love for talent that she brought to the show.

She will certainly be missed, but with several other projects in the works, including her new record label, 11:11 Records, it’s not a surprise that Ellen would have to give something up. She added:

I also realized this season that while I love discovering, supporting and nurturing young talent, it was hard for me to judge people and sometimes hurt their feelings. I loved the experience working on Idol and I am very grateful for the year I had, I am a huge fan of the show and will continue to be.

It seems Ellen prefers to be backing artists she believes in, rather than breaking the spirit of hopefuls. It’s likely for the best, as Ellen has always maintained that she’s not a fan of negativity and is usually a purveyor of dreaming big and never giving up — which is one of the reasons why we like her so much.

Update 5:45 p.m.

Jennifer Lopez will replace Ellen on the judge’s panel. Deadline is reporting:

We hear her manager Benny Medina (whom she once fired) orchestrated the meeting with the American Idol producers a month ago, and negotiations have been ongoing ever since. We’ve learned a deal was closed earlier this week under the utmost secrecy.

Deadline also says Ellen wanted out two months ago, saying “She’s not comfortable. She’s not happy. It’s not been fun.” Apparently Fox Broadcasting’s Entertainment Chairman Peter Rice and Alternative TV President Mike Darnell said that “with Cowell leaving, ‘We can’t let you out now because it would be bad for our franchise. Give us a chance to figure out who we could get.”

It seems there hasn’t been any ousting of any kind and that Ellen chose to exit the show before JLo signed on. The official announcement is expected from Fox at TCA on Monday.

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