Jennifer Lopez says "Idol" judging days are over
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Pop star Jennifer Lopez on Friday said her judging days are over on TV singing contest "American Idol," following Steven Tyler out the door and signaling a major shakeup in the top-rated show that has seen its viewership slump in recent years.
Lopez, who joined the show two seasons ago but recently has indicated a desire to move on, told "American Idol" host Ryan Seacrest in a radio interview that it was time to go.
"I just don't feel like I can be there every single day all the time like I have been for the past two years," Lopez told Seacrest, citing other business commitments and her duties as a mom raising two twins.
"You dread a conversation like this," she told Seacrest. "I honestly feel like the time has come that I have to get back to doing the other things that I do, that I've put kind of on hold because I like 'Idol' so much," she said.
Seacrest's radio sidekick, Ellen K., said "it sounds like you've made up your mind," and Lopez replied. "Yeah."
Lopez, 42, is on concert tour this summer with Latin singer Enrique Iglesias and has two movies in theaters - "What to Expect When You're Expecting" and "Ice Age: Continental Drift" - and another set for release next year.
A spokeswoman for the Fox TV network, which airs "American Idol," said the broadcaster had no comment, and a representative for Lopez could not immediately be reached for further details.
Lopez, a star of movies and music whose hits include "On the Floor," has for weeks been the subject speculation over whether she would stay on "Idol," and as recently as Thursday on NBC news program "Today," she indicated she would not return.
But her statements to Seacrest were her strongest yet on the subject. She did leave the door open to perhaps come back as a guest on "Idol," or to mentor one of the contestants.
Lopez's statements follow by one day an announcement from Aerosmith frontman Tyler and Fox that he will not return for the upcoming fall season. Tyler said he wanted to focus on his band.
Some media outlets also reported that third judge Randy Jackson, who has been with the program since its inception in 2002, also would bow out. But those reports could not be confirmed, and a spokesman for Jackson declined comment.
Even if Jackson stays, the loss of Lopez and Tyler portends a major shakeup on the show that has become a cash cow for Fox, generating $700 million in advertising sales in 2011, according to consultant Kantar Media. Forbes.com calculated that "Idol" was the most profitable show on TV in 2011, generating some $6.64 million in ad revenue for every half hour it aired.
While it remains the most-watched TV show contest in the United States, "Idol" has seen its ratings slump in recent years. May's season finale drew 21.2 million viewers, well off its highs of more than 30 million in its heyday. Overall, it's viewership was down 30 percent from the 2010 season.
Fox is a unit of media company News Corp.
(Reporting By Bob Tourtellotte and Courtney Garcia; Editing by Andrew Hay and Sofina Mirza-Reid)
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