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With Steven Tyler Leaving, What's Next for 'American Idol'?

Judges' revolving door keeps spinning, with J.Lo potentially out too

July 13, 2012 9:10 AM ET
steven tyler
Michael Becker / FOX

Days before he announced that he would be stepping down from his post as a judge on American Idol, Steven Tyler was guarded about his future on the hit reality-singing competition. "I don't know," the Aerosmith frontman told Rolling Stone when he was asked whether he'd be returning for a third season. "It's TV, man. Even in a band, you can get replaced."

The 64-year-old Tyler, whose longtime band recently hit the road for their Global Warming Tour and will release Music From Another Dimension, their first album in eight years, in November, did admit in his statement on Thursday that it was far from an easy decision to leave the Idol gig. "After some long, hard thoughts, I've decided it's time for me to let go of my mistress American Idol before she boils my rabbit," he said. "I strayed from my first love, Aerosmith, and I'm back – but instead of begging on my hands and knees, I got two fists in the air and I'm kicking the door open with my band. The next few years are going to be dedicated to kicking some serious ass – the ultimate in auditory takeover."

Tyler's decision comes at a rather curious time: just hours before he issued his statement, co-judge Jennifer Lopez told Today's Natalie Morales that while she had yet to officially make up her mind, she was leaning towards leaving the show as well. "I am thinking that maybe it’s time for me to go and do other things that I really love to do, like films," she explained.

Fans of Idol should hardly be surprised at the news of one or potentially two vacancies on the judging panel this off-season. Aside from mainstay Randy Jackson (the only remaining original judge), the Idol judging gig has been something of a revolving door in recent years. In 2009 Paula Abdul departed after eight seasons; iconic judge Simon Cowell left a year later to launch his own talent competition, The X-Factor; and Ellen DeGeneres and Kara DioGuardi each joined in on the fun for one and two seasons respectively.

So what does this all mean for the future of American Idol? Well, one thing is for sure – the show will go on. Ryan Seacrest, who has hosted the show for all of its 11 seasons, signed on in April for two more years at an estimated annual salary of $15 million, and we'd be hard pressed to believe Jackson is going anywhere anytime soon.

But the question remains as to who will replace Tyler, and potentially Lopez, when Idol kicks off its twelfth season in early 2013. One potential suitor appears to be season eight runner-up Adam Lambert. The singer expressed interest in the position during a recent U.K. radio show interview. "Listen, if – and I say 'if' with a capital I-F – if they were to approach me and if they were to say, 'We want you to be a judge on the show,' I would love that. I would jump at the chance," Lambert told Capital FM. 

While there are no other clues as to who will be the next Idol judge(s), if the judge-related drama of years past has taught us anything, it's to expect the unexpected. Stay tuned as this sure-to-be soap opera plays out in the coming months. 

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