There will not be a single judge returning to American Idol year-over-year; Randy Jackson has been practically axed from the cast, reports TMZ, with his role reduced to that of “mentor.” Mr. Jackson has been with the show since its first season in the summer of 2002; more recent additions Steven Tyler and Jennifer Lopez both decided to leave the show of their own accord this year.
Only Mariah Carey has been announced as a judge for the series, which has traditionally held auditions with a full complement of judges during the summer months. TMZ reports that the series wants four judges, and names bandied about have included Nick Jonas, Enrique Iglesias, Keith Urban, Katy Perry (who has said she turned the series down), and rising rap star Nicki Minaj, who TMZ says is very close to a deal. With the current reality-TV judge arms race among divas (Christina Aguilera on The Voice, Britney Spears on The X-Factor), the onus is on the heavyweight in the category to pick someone with a bit more star power than music producer–and repetitive and unconvincing public speaker–Mr. Jackson.