Fox’s "American Idol" will use a series of guest judges including singers Victoria ("Posh Spice") Beckham and Katy Perry until a permananent replacement for departing judge Paula Abdul is found, Fox Broadcasting Co. Entertainment Chairman Peter Rice told members of the Television Critics Association assembled in Pasadena, Calif., today.
Rice made the announcement when he as asked about reports–including one linked to this morning by TVWeek–that Beckham was going to be a judge.
Rice said that the network hopes that by January, when the show goes live, there will be a permanent replacement named for Abdul, who failed this week to come to terms on a new contract with the hit show. He later said that it was possible that the show would not replace Abdul and only go with three judges, but that that was unlikely.
Fox executives said that ‘Idol’ has used guest judges in the past during auditions, so having them again this season was both comfortable as well as an expedient solution to the surprise that Abdul turned down the contract she was offered to return to the show.
Separately, former ‘Idol’ producer and "So You Think You Can Dance" judge and executive producer Nigel Lythgoe told the TCA he has offered Abdul a spot as a guest judge on "SYTYCD," but said he wasn’t sure her negotiations with "idol’ were completely over.
Rice, however, said that as far as Fox was concerned its negotiation with Abdul had been completed and they were proceeding with the belief that she will not return to the show.
–Tom Gilbert and Chuck Ross