EXCLUSIVE: The sweeping changes on Fox’s American Idol continue. I’ve learned that top music producer Jimmy Iovine is leaving the talent competition series, where he served as an in-house mentor for the past three seasons. I hear he will likely be replaced by former Idol judge Randy Jackson. Iovine, co-founder of Interscope Records and chairman of Interscope Geffen A&M, joined Idol in Season 10, the first without original judge Simon Cowell. With his music executive/producer experience and no-nonsense attitude, Iovine was tapped to fill the void left by the acerbic British music executive. His Interscope Geffen A&M also took over from Cowell’s label in handling the albums of the Idol finalists. While Idol has ended its relationship with Iovine, the show may not be left without a top music producer evaluating the contestants as Dr. Luke has been in talks for the last vacant seat on the judging panel, joining Keith Urban and Jennifer Lopez.
As for original Idol judge Jackson, who in May announced he was not returning to the judging table, Fox chairman Kevin Reilly earlier this month indicated that Jackson “will be back in some capacity, adding, “He is a friend of show, and certainly guests spots (are a real possibility).” A mentor position would make Jackson’s presence on Idol more regular, allowing for continuity. He will join host Ryan Seacrest as the only Idol on-air talent who have been on the show since the first season in 2002. In addition to the judge shakeups, with Mariah Carey, Nicki Minaj and Jackson leaving, the changes on Idol going into next season also include David Hill succeeding Fox reality head Mike Darnell in overseeing the show and Per Blankens, Jesse Ignjatovic & Evan Prager replacing Nigel Lythgoe and Ken Warwick as executive producers.