Chris Isaak, Harry Connick Jr. to Judge 'Idol'?

Show close to naming Simon Cowell's replacement

July 21, 2010 1:10 PM ET

Personalities as diverse as Howard Stern and Perez Hilton have been rumored to replace Simon Cowell on the upcoming season of American Idol, but Chris Isaak is the reported leading candidate for the job. According to The Hollywood Reporter , Isaak has already met twice with Idol producers, who are looking for a popular music figure to replace the sardonic Cowell. Singer Harry Connick Jr., who shined in his guest appearance on Idol last season, is also reportedly under consideration. Producers hope to determine who will judge alongside Randy Jackson, Ellen DeGeneres and Kara DioGuardi by the time Idol auditions hit the road in mid-September.

"Wicked Game" singer Isaak has an extensive television résumé — he hosted his own Chris Isaak Show and The Chris Isaak Hour, and stood out in guest spots on Friends and Cold Case — but he is a bit light on reality-television experience. However, Isaak did appear during the sixth season of Australian Idol in 2008 as a guest mentor. THR also reports that at least one potential candidate being eyed by Idol is also being pursued for open judge positions on The X Factor, Cowell's new singing competition.

While rocker and reality-show mainstay Bret Michaels has openly lobbied for the opportunity to fill Cowell's chair, and appeared on the Idol Season Nine finale, the Poison singer is reportedly out of the running. Hilton and Stern were also rumored to replace Cowell, but neither has the musical expertise that Idol execs are seeking. Producer Steve Lillywhite has also shown interest in replacing Cowell, but while Lillywhite is a legend in the recording studio, his name doesn't carry the same weight as an Isaak or Connick Jr. when it comes to viewers — and viewership was Idol's main problem last season as the show's ratings sagged in its first post-Paula Abdul season, falling behind Dancing with the Stars for the first time.

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