Many years ago, when “American Idol” was a monster ratings hit, a Fox exec told the TV Column the show’s hit status was the networks’ to lose.
Which brings us to this season of the singing competition, as it limps to home plate, with some of its lowest numbers since its very first, summer, season.
This season, as in seasons past, the producers had brought in a new crop of judges to jumpstart its ratings. Though the producers have made some casting mistakes — Ellen DeGeneres lasted just one season, and the less said about Kara DioGuardi the better.
But this season broke new ground in bad casting, with the addition of Mariah Carey and Nicki Minaj, as well as Keith Urban, though he seems guilty merely of being the right guy in the wrong place at the wrong time. Carey and Minaj produced a lot of headlines — Minaj threatening Carey, or not; Carey hiring body guards to protect her and her babies from Minaj crazies, etc. — but lousy numbers.
Not coincidentally, word got out Wednesday that the producers had, about a month ago, mulled replacing Carey with former judge Jennifer Lopez.
Two seasons ago, the producers brought in Lopez and Stephen Tyler to judge Season 10 with long-timer Randy Jackson, and their addition did boost the ratings the first season.
The concept of swapping out Carey for JLo came and went by the time The Reporters Who Cover TV got wind of the campaign which either died when Carey’s Camp threatened to sue, or when someone stopped taking their Stupid Pills — it doesn’t matter.
At any rate, it appears it will not happen this year, though you should expect to see Lopez guest star near the season wrap, and she may be in contention to return next season.
“Idol” producer Nigel Lythgoe told The Hollywood Reporter, which was first with the old news, “I have not been included in any conversation regarding replacing Mariah with Jen this season” — a statement that has so many qualifiers in it as to be rendered meaningless.