EXCLUSIVE: Could American Idol be going country with its next judge pick? I hear the veteran Fox reality series is seriously considering country star Brad Paisley for one of the vacated chairs on its judging panel. Bringing in a country star as an Idol judge appears logical since the show’s most successful winner to date, Carrie Underwood, is a country singer as are a number of other well-known Idol finalists — including last year’s winner Scotty McCreery and runner-up Lauren Alana. Paisley, who has performed on Idol, has a relationship with both Underwood and McCreery, recording hit Remind me with Underwood and bringing in McCreery to tour with him. Meanwhile, NBC’s The Voice has had success with a country star, Blake Shelton, as a mentor.
Fox is focusing on recruiting a new male judge after closing a deal with Mariah Carey to succeed Jennifer Lopez. Word is that original Idol judge and Carey co-manager Randy Jackson will likely come back, while Fox is also toying with the idea of a four-judge panel that was phased out when Lopez and Steven Tyler were signed two years ago. (Rivals The X Factor and The Voice both have four-person panels.) As for the vacancy on Fox’s other singing reality show, the hosting gig on The X Factor, the name that keeps popping up is Kelly Osbourne.