Michael Becker / FOX
Michael Becker / FOX
American Idol isn't what it used to be.
In fact, no one knows for sure what it will look like next season.
Ever since E! News first told you back in May that Jennifer Lopez had decided she wasn't going to return for a third time, there's been a nonstop bombardment of rumors, reports and analysis about the show's future.
It certainly can be dizzying.
So to keep you in the ever-changing Idol loop, we're giving you this handy-dandy cheat sheet on everything we know—so far, that is.
• The following day, Lopez tweets, "There is no truth to reports that say I am definitely leaving Idol. All I said was I haven't decided what I am doing next year. #mediaremix." However, sources still insist she has no plans to come back.
• Later that night, during a post-Idol show interview, Randy Jackson answers with a non-answer when asked if Lopez was leaving. "Of course [we'd want to carry on this panel]," Jackson says. "Next season, 13, 14, 100, but yeah! I mean, of course! We're a nice, happy, gregarious, cool, evanescence kind of family."
• Idol takes a dip. Season 11's performance finale on May 22 is down nearly 6 million viewers from 2011's; the finale is off some 8 million viewers.,
• Season 11 runner-up Jessica Sanchez tells E! News that Lopez is irreplaceable. Joshua Ledet says Beyoncé Knowles would work.
• Soon after the Lambert news breaks, E! News reports that Miley Cyrus, Katy Perry, Nicky Minaj, Fergie and will.i.am are also being considered for a revamped judges panel. "No one has signed any contracts yet and producers are currently putting out feelers and setting up meetings to see who they can get," and Idol insider says. "We won't know if Randy [Jackson] and Steven [Tyler] are returning until they see who else is on board."
• Lopez hints that she's more than likely to be going. "Maybe it's time for me to go," she tells the Today show. She even posts a video of the interview on her website under the headline, "It's a tough decision."
• Tyler announces on July 12 via a Fox press release that he won't be back because wants to concentrate more on Aerosmith. "Idol was over-the-top fun, and I loved every minute of it…Now it's time to bring Rock Back," Tyler says in a statement.
• Less than 24 hours after Tyler's announcement, Lopez makes her departure official during an interview with Idol host Ryan Seacrest on his morning radio show. "I honestly feel the time has come that I have to get back to doing the other things that you do, and you have to pay attention to that, too," she says. "I could keep doing Idol for the rest of my life, but that would be giving up a bunch of other things. I feel like we had an amazing run."
• Sources confirm to E! News that Mariah Carey, who is managed by Jackson, is in talks to join the show. So is Cyrus, who has also been talking to X Factor UK and X Factor Australia. One source insists Lambert is off the list, but another says he remains a top choice.
• Lythgoe tells Seacrest on his radio that he thinks it may be time for one-year judges. "If we do want these big stars, and we do, you cannot take them away from what they do," he said. "That's depriving the public of a star for a start and stopping them from earning a lot of money."
—Reporting by Ken Baker, Melanie Bromley and Kristin Dos Santos