Secret plan to dump Mariah Carey from American Idol called “ridiculous” by Fox

American Idol is experiencing its lowest-ratings since season one, despite a pre-season feud, and Fox and the show’s producers came up with an innovative plan, according to a report: Fire Mariah Carey and replace her with Jennifer Lopez, who judged last year and then quit, but that didn’t happen because Mariah threatened to sue.

The Hollywood Reporter’s story on the mid-season replacement plot was denied by a Fox spokesperson, who called it “just another ridiculous Idol judge rumor, likely started by talks of Jennifer performing on the finale.”

Curiously, though, executive producer Nigel Lythgoe told the paper, “I have not been included in any conversation regarding replacing Mariah with Jen this season.” That’s really strange language that suggests there was a conversation that he wasn’t part of, which is weird since he produces the show. If there was no plan, why not just say so?

That Nigel wasn’t involved does jibe with another detail the paper cited: “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.” In other words, it was a higher-level conversation.

On a semi-related note, there’s this detail attributed to an anonymous source about the show’s ratings problems: “The core viewer is a midwestern, Southern, older woman who is threatened by Nicki’s aggressiveness.” That seems like pretty transparent, coded language, and if American Idol is really desperate enough to start pandering to racist old people, it’s in a lot of trouble.

The Sing-Off loses its star

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NBC's super-fun December a capella singing competition The Sing-Off is returning, but without its star judge, Ben Folds, and only as a two-hour special. Those are really depressing changes for a series that proved itself to be a super-fun show when it returned last December.


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What is it like to have your life turned into reality TV? Director Anna Martemucci, one of the two directors featured on Starz' exceptional reality series, talks about that, the competition, and her collaboration with her husband and brother-in-law.

Plus: How the show's producers tried to keep the $250,000 competition fair.

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.