Kevin Reilly, Fox President of Entertainment, opened his executive session in front of journalists at the Television Critics Association press tour in Beverly Hills, Calif., today by confirming Mariah Carey will be a new judge on "American Idol."
After the departure of Steven Tyler and Jennifer Lopez from the singing competition, rumors surrounding who will take a seat at the judges' table next season have been swirling. Reilly addressed the speculation head-on by saying, "I really can't confirm anything except for one thing: We closed a deal very, very recently."
To prove just how recently the contract had been signed, Reilly pulled out his cell phone and began making a phone call while dropping hints as to who they signed — someone with one of the biggest recording contracts to ever appear as a regular on a singing show, and someone whose voice many of those series' contestants had tried to emulate. After a couple technical difficulties, Reilly addressed his caller: "Hi Mariah, how are you?"
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When put on speakerphone, Carey apologized for not being at press tour in person, but assured critics she is "so excited to be on 'Idol'" and "can't wait to get started."
Reilly, trying to downplay the continual shifts and lower ratings that "Idol" has faced in recent years, said because the series isn't "the only game in town" anymore, the network needs to "keep things fresh." It was "time for a change," he said.
Reilly had no announcements on filling the second judge's seat, but said Fox has "the biggest names in the business interested in the job."
Addressing "Idol" producer Nigel Lythgoe's comments on the "So You Think You Can Dance Panel" earlier in the day, during which he said he's holding out hope that Jennifer Lopez will return, Reilly said, "I think I can say it's 100 percent [confirmed] that Jennifer won't be back to the show."