UPDATED: The announcement was made by Fox entertainment president Kevin Reilly at the top of Fox’s TCA executive session. “I’m thrilled we could confirm that,” said Reilly, who called Carey up on his cell onstage. “I’m so excited to be joining Idol,” she said. As we reported Friday, Carey is believed to command a salary of more than $17 million for the next season of American Idol, which sets a new record for talent on a reality series, eclipsing the paycheck of Idol‘s Jennifer Lopez.
Reilly declined to comment on other aspects of Idol but did confirm both Steven Tyler and Lopez are leaving the show. (Earlier in the day, Idol executive producer Nigel Lythgoe hinted there was a 1% chance for Lopez to return.) Reilly said the decision was “mutual” with both Tyler and Lopez. “We came up on top but ratings for Idol were down and we know we’re not the only game in town anymore, so we need to keep things fresh,” Reilly said. After the Q&A session, Reilly did admit that Lopez’s departure and Carey’s appointment were related. While he didn’t feel comfortable calling Carey a replacement for Lopez, he did say that Fox brass zeroed in on getting Carey “once Jennifer Lopez declared that she was comfortable moving on.” As for original Idol judge Randy Jackson, as Carey’s co-manager he was “very instrumental in doing (her) deal” for Idol, Reilly said. Asked about Jackson’s own future on Idol, he said after the panel that he expects Jackson will be back, with a decision on the entire Idol judging pilot likely to come down within the next couple of weeks. Also coming back is Nigel Lythgoe as executive producer whose deal is being worked out.