Hiring one of the biggest music superstars in the world should be enough to boost ratings for a TV show, right? In theory, yes. But as American Idol has proven this year, it doesn’t matter how big the star is, it matters if they have chemistry with the rest of the panel and if they’re a competent judge.

But Mariah Carey, the best selling female artist of all time, has struggled in her role as a judge. She’s been way too nice and, in recent weeks, has even mentioned on the air that she’s aware of everyone’s perception of her. The powers that be at FOX have taken note as well because they tried to devise a plan to boost ratings after Mariah was unable to. The plan, according to The Hollywood Reporter, was simple, but a big and risky move: replace Mariah Carey mid-season with former Idol judge Jennifer Lopez.

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The network never followed through because after hearing about it, Mariah came back and threatened litigation.

A FOX spokeswoman released a statement saying, “This is just another ridiculous Idol judge rumor, likely started by talks of Jennifer performing on the finale.” Even Mariah’s rep is backing away and denying there’s any truth to the report. Executive producer Nigel Lythgoe said, “I have not been included in any conversation regarding replacing Mariah with Jen this season.” This quote from the showrunner means nothing since he recently admitted he’s no longer involved in deciding who becomes a judge.

Considering ratings for season 12 are down from previous seasons — Idol has hit series lows in recent weeks and even lost to a repeat of The Big Bang Theory — replacing a judge mid-season, especially one as high-profile as Mariah, might have come across as a sign of desperation. Bringing back Jennifer, though for a future season, might still be a good move. She has a fun, lovable personality that is lacking in Mariah.

FOX has realized there’s nothing that can be done about the current season, so they’re looking ahead to next year. An insider told THR that not only are they planning to dump Mariah, they might also replace “most likely Nicki Minaj and possibly the entire judge’s panel.” They can’t seem to ever get rid of Randy Jackson, so it’s unlikely everybody will be replaced at once. Internal research done by the network reveals viewers have not warmed to Nicki, with a source saying, “The core viewer is a midwestern, Southern, older woman who is threatened by Nicki’s aggressiveness.”

And someone with knowledge of the situation, who is being considered as a judge next year, says that producers are looking for “not necessarily a star” to join the panel. Instead, it could be an industry insider, even a record executive. The X Factor did that for their first two seasons with L.A. Reid, and Simon Cowell can be put under that same label as well.

Would replacing Mariah Carey with Jennifer Lopez mid-season have worked? Or would it have seemed like an act of desperation? And should Idol still consider bringing her back for a future season?

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(Images courtesy of FOX)

Jeff Dodge

Staff Writer, BuddyTV

Jeff Dodge, a graduate of Western Washington University, has been a TV news editor for many years and has had the chance to interview multiple reality show stars, including Randy Jackson, Nick Cannon, Heidi Klum, Mel B and John Cena.