Mariah Carey, small town bus tour both joining American Idol 12

Mariah Carey is joining American Idol as a judge, Jennifer Lopez is officially out, and Randy Jackson’s future is still up in the air. That was the news from Los Angeles moments ago, as Fox president Kevin Reilly appeared in front of TV critics and called Mariah on speakerphone to confirm her casting, which was finalized this morning.

While Nigel Lythgoe–who is in negotiations to return as executive producer–told critics during a So You Think You Can Dance press conference that he was hoping there was a 1 percent chance Jennifer Lopez would return, Reilly shut that down and said that she and Steven Tyler had come to a “mutual” agreement that both would depart the show. That sounds vaguely like they were fired, as reports claimed.

Meanwhile, Fox announced other changes. The dearth of American Idol contestants from small towns will finally be addressed this season, as the show will take a bus to small towns throughout the middle of the country. The August bus tour is one of three more ways to audition in front of judges who haven’t yet been hired. I guess they’re using a bus because planes can’t get to the 10 places they’re going, such as Grand Junction, Colo.; Iowa City, Iowa; Bowling Green, Ky.; and Billings, Mont.

The show will also accept nominations from people who want to secretly nominate friends and family members, because as we’ve seen over 11 seasons, friends and family members usually have accurate perceptions about the musical talents of the people in their lives.

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about the writer

Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 36, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.