BREAKING… EXCLUSIVE: Now that Steven Tyler today quit American Idol to return to performing with Aerosmith, the focus turns to Jennifer Lopez and her status also as a Season 12 judge on the Fox talent show. Her insiders have been telling me for months now that she, too, wants to return to performing full-time — even though American Idol revived her dead showbiz career — and abandon Idol. As one of her insiders tells me: “She wants to do movies. She’s expecting her team to deliver. She feels she’d rather be on Idol performing than judging everyone else.” On the other hand, how in demand is yet another 42-year-old singer-actress given the reality of showbiz? Her intimate tells me, “I think she’s off and it’s mutual. They’re not inviting her back so quickly. Not because they’re unhappy with her. But because she wants a lot of fucking money, a lot.” As JLo herself told one of her intimates, “I’m not going back unless they pay me what I want.”
Now my Fox sources are weighing in with me today on the status of negotiations with JLo. “It’s complicated and fluid. It might get resolved very quickly or may drag on for another few weeks. All the usual reasons; money, schedules, desire to continue, and overall makeup of the judges panel.”
This follows News Corp COO Chase Carey telling Wall Street analysts that “our challenge for next year is to put some fresh energy in” American Idol after “we probably didn’t do enough this year”. In terms of changes, Fox entertainment president Kevin Reilly has promised “some creative tweaking” heading into next season after the show’s ratings “dropped more than anticipated” this cycle as “space got crowded”. Indeed, Idol posted its lowest-rated finale ever last spring.
This morning on NBC’s Today show, Lopez sure sounded like she was quitting Idol, saying “I am thinking it’s time for me to go and do other things I love to do”:
“I’ve loved it so much. I’ve enjoyed the show so much. I enjoy just the whole process of the show… It’s a tough decision either way, but I have to say there are so many things I do that I put on hold for that. It’s a heartbreaking decision if I have to go. Little by little I am [moving closer to a final decision...] All I can let you in on is my own thought process with it because that’s where I truly am… I love everybody, I love all the guys on the show, I love the family that’s there… But I am thinking it’s time for me to go and do other things I love to do.”
On the other hand, it’s not like Lopez is hurting for money like she was in 2010 when she signed her Idol contract: Forbes magazine just placed her #1 on its celebrity money-makers, pinpointing her earnings at $52 million after she parlayed her position as a judge on Idol into hit singles, increased album sales, an upcoming world tour, three new movies, and a growing portfolio of endorsements. She’s also launched a clothing and lifestyle collection for Kohl’s, added an 18th scent to her fragrance line Glow, and keeps making TV deals for shows. Her Latin talent competition show, Q’Viva: The Chosen on Univision failed to successfully cross over to Fox. But she’s now developing an hour-long drama for ABC Family. And Oxygen just bought her pitch for a reality show centered around the dancers on her tour and her choreographer/boyfriend Casper Smart as they prepare for JLo’s tour.
Sources close to Fox repeatedly have told Deadline that Lopez has not officially informed the network that she is leaving. And they think her reluctance might be a negotiating ploy many big-name stars use when up for renewals. Talks have been ongoing for months now. The latest media speculation about new Idol judges 2009 runner-up Adam Lambert, rapper will.i.am, Miley Cyrus, Mariah Carey, and Fergie. (Lambert said recently: “If Idol wants to talk to me about judging, I’d be more than flattered to have that conversation.” Katy Perry has revealed she said no to an offer.
It’s a huge gamble for Lopez if she turns her back on Idol since her career could just go back into the crapper. “Everyone thought it was a mistake for to go on Idol and yet it reignited her career,” a Fox exec reminds me. After all, her recent ensemble film What To Expect When You’re Expecting opened to underwhelming domestic box office. Yet she’s still very watchable: her reputed Oscar-night nipple slip was the telecast’s second-most-watched moment.
During her last negotiation in 2010, JLo’s reps bargained a sweet overall Fox deal along with her $12M Idol judging job. But her most diva demands were refused. I’d learned she had been bargaining for guaranteed “go” motion picture and TV pilots at Fox to accompany an asked-for $15 million judging paycheck. But the powers-that-be who produce Idol – Fox, Fremantle, and 19 Entertainment — balked. It was her manager Benny Medina (whom she once fired) who first orchestrated the meeting with the Idol producers and then she, Medina and her producing partner Simon Fields tried to milk the gig for all they could. They expected the movie studio and broadcast network/television programmer to further her stalled career in the film/TV area. One bargaining chip they had, as I reported, was that Simon Cowell had asked JLo to be a judge on the Fox version of his The X Factor in Fall 2011.
Recently JLo’s team has put together some TV deals. But those TV development projects could go by the wayside just as her old ones did when her career grew cold. So could her licensing ventures just as before. So, too her Def Jam recording contract and movie deals. Pre-Idol, JLo’s singing and acting career hit the skids after her 2010 movie The Back-Up Plan failed at the box office and she was dropped by her longtime record label Sony Music Epic Records.