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Luke Bryan It's Official ... My Hero Lionel & I Are Joining 'Idol!!!'

9/29/2017 12:20 PM PDT
Breaking News

Luke Bryan just made official what we told you about early Friday morning -- he and Lionel Richie are joining Katy Perry as judges #2 and 3 on "American Idol."

The country star made the announcement in a video he posted on Twitter just moments ago and hours after TMZ first reported the pending news.

Luke -- all the way from Hayfield, Kansas -- said he's excited to join "the beautiful Ms. Katy Perry and my hero Lionel Richie and my fellow Georgia boy, Ryan Seacrest."

As we reported ... signing all 3 judges didn't come cheap.

'American Idol' Luke Bryan and Lionel Richie Will Join Katy Perry ... Just in the Nick of Time!!!

9/29/2017 8:00 AM PDT
EXCLUSIVE

"American Idol" has completed the arduous and super expensive process of snagging 3 judges for the show's reboot ... and it didn't come a day too soon.

Sources connected with the production tell TMZ, ABC and Fremantle, which co-owns the show with Core Media Group, will announce as early as Friday night they have signed Luke Bryan and Lionel Richie as judges #2 and 3.

Luke and Lionel will join Katy Perry ... and join her fast. We're told shooting begins Tuesday.

We're told although Luke and Lionel have agreed to join, there could be a delay in announcing if the lawyers start nitpicking.

Production sources tell us, the show has gone way over the intended budget ... largely because Katy Perry held them up for $25 million. Ryan Seacrest's making somewhere between $10 and $15 mil, and that pretty much blew the budget sky high.

We're told Luke signed for around $13 million and Lionel got close to $10 million. It's going to be difficult to turn a profit unless the show is an out-of-the-park home run.

'American Idol' ABC vs. Producers ... Tug of War Over Racial Diversity

9/25/2017 1:00 AM PDT
EXCLUSIVE

The folks who are bringing you "American Idol" again are in conflict over racial composition of the judge's panel  ... TMZ has learned.  

Now that Katy Perry is in place and Luke Bryan is just days from signing, ABC and Fremantle, which co-owns the show, are trying to settle on a third judge. Sources connected to the production tell us Fremantle wants Charlie Puth, but ABC believes there must be racial diversity on the panel.

We're told the network continues to have its eye on Lionel Richie, who has been in play for several months. So far, we're told there's a standoff, but someone's gotta blink because they're almost ready to begin filming with the judges.

And this is interesting ... we're told Fremantle has taken a meeting with Troy Carter, a super manager of performers like John Legend, Nelly, Meghan Trainor, Miguel and Gaga. He's also one of the initial, big investors in Spotify.   We're told one of the reasons Carter may be appealing ... if ABC wins on the diversity issue, Carter wouldn't come with as big a price tag as Lionel, and the budget is almost blown. 

Luke Bryan Set to Be 2nd Judge on 'Idol' ... Hasn't Signed Quite Yet

9/24/2017 1:08 PM PDT
Exclusive Details

Luke Bryan has reportedly landed the second seat as a judge on the rebooted "American Idol" series alongside Katy Perry -- but our sources say the the deal is NOT officially done ... not yet, at least.

According to reports ... Luke is confirmed as the 2nd judge, although the details of his payment/perks are unclear for now. However, we're told he hasn't signed on the dotted line as of Sunday, but is expected to sign on within days. In other words, it's happening soon.

We broke the story ... 'Idol' wanted Luke badly, but couldn't come to terms on money. He wanted more than they were offering, and producers tried supplementing his salary with a Disney deal due to budget restrictions.

The problem ... 'Idol' has not locked down a 3rd judge as of yet, and time/money is running out. As we reported ... they were considering everyone from Lionel Richie to Charlie Puth and Keith Urban, but their dough's running dry because of how much they're already paying Katy as well as Ryan Seacrest, who scored significantly less to return as host.

We've reached out to Luke's camp ... so far, no word back.

Ryan Seacrest That Dude's Mug Shot Looks Just Like Me!!!

9/22/2017 7:13 AM PDT
EXCLUSIVE

THIIIIIISSSS ... is "American Idol" meets "Cops."

The person in this mug shot is NOT Ryan Seacrest ... but, c'mon, the resemblance is uncanny!!!

One of our eagle-eyed users was perusing the booking photos when she found this guy -- who looks strikingly similar to Seacrest.

In fact, they're both the same age (42) and height (5'8").

Unfortunately for this dude, cops say he was recently busted on a meth charge -- so that sucks. Hopefully, he can get his life together.

But if Seacrest ever wants to call in sick ... hey, we got your stand-in!!

'American Idol' Filming May Be Delayed Chaos Looms Large

9/14/2017 12:40 AM PDT
EXCLUSIVE

"American Idol" has backed itself into a corner, because it might need to delay taping until it lands more judges ... but that doesn't work for the only judge it's got so far -- Katy Perry.

Our 'Idol' sources tell us ... Thursday is the last stop for the show's tour bus auditions, and it's just weeks away from the planned taped auditions with the judges. Problem is -- producers are no closer to locking down stars to join Katy on the panel.

So the dilemma is simple and serious -- if the show's forced to postpone filming, it will likely conflict with Perry's Witness tour schedule producers worked so hard to accommodate in the first place.

Adding to the dilemma ... 'A.I.' still hasn't signed desired judge #2, Luke Bryan. We're told he wants more money, and the Disney perks he was offered instead of cash didn't cut it. 'Idol's' no closer to landing the 3rd judge.

Our sources say everything's still up in the air -- not a good place to be for a legendary show trying to make a triumphant return to TV.

'American Idol' Judge Budget Running Dry ... How 'Bout a Disney Deal?

9/7/2017 12:40 AM PDT
EXCLUSIVE

"American Idol" is struggling to land judges to join Katy Perry because of budget limitations, but it still has a weapon on reserve to lure 'em in -- a partnership with Disney.

Our 'A.I.' sources tell us ... the show's talent budget has a $40 million cap, which has been depleted by signing Perry for $25 mil and Ryan Seacrest for just over $10 mil. So, producers are having to get creative and sweeten the deal by offering celebs Disney perks that will turn into a big payday.

We're told the perks include production deals, licensing and merchandising deals for Disney properties ... and also theme park partnerships. For example, Disney's Hollywood Studios features the Rock 'n' Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith ... but can always add more names.

As we reported ... 'Idol' made an offer to country star Luke Bryan to be judge #2. As far as we know, the deal isn't sealed ... at least not yet.

Perhaps we'll be seeing Space Mountain starring Luke Bryan.

'American Idol' Haley Reinhart Beat-Up Buddy Sues Bar, Bouncer ... Over Brutal Choke Hold

8/23/2017 12:20 AM PDT
EXCLUSIVE

"American Idol" alum Haley Reinhart's pal -- who was choked out by bouncers at a bar in Illinois -- is now putting the squeeze on them ... legally speaking.

Alan Chislof just filed a lawsuit against the Lamplighter Inn Tavern & Grille and one of its bouncers, Adam Sobanski, for the July beatdown that left him with what he says are permanent injuries. 

We broke the story ... Alan claims he was choked so badly by Adam and other security that night, he suffered a concussion, a facial laceration near his right temple, a bad cut above his left eye, facial bruising and hematoma. Haley was arrested soon after when she allegedly punched one of the bouncers in the scuffle.

In the docs, obtained by TMZ, Alan's lawyer, Mark A. Brown, says Adam's responsible for his injuries and Lamplighter is responsible for negligently hiring and not properly training him to be a good security guard (i.e. not beating the crap out of its customers). The dude's already facing 2 felony counts for the altercation.

Still, Alan's asking for an unspecified amount in damages.

'American Idol' Alum William Hung I'm Kind Of a Big Deal ... In Chandler, Arizona

8/21/2017 3:17 PM PDT
Exclusive Details

"American Idol" alum William Hung can still pack a full house, which is exactly what happened on Saturday night at a bar in Arizona.

Will -- who went viral for his attempt at Ricky Martin's "She Bangs" on 'A.I.' in 2004 -- played at the Third Base bar in Chandler.

We're told the bar booked him for $1k and paid for his airfare and travel just so he could perform there, and Will managed to bring in some 250 patrons.

Will lived it up like a true VIP ... he got his own booth and ended up signing autographs and taking pics with fans, who also bought him shots. We'd say it helped with the nerves but, judging from the footage, he's a pro.

'American Idol' Struggling to Find Judges And the Clock is Ticking

8/16/2017 3:05 PM PDT
EXCLUSIVE

The "American Idol" reboot seems to be in crisis -- honchos still haven't locked down a second, third and possibly fourth judge, with only 6 weeks until cameras roll.

TMZ broke the story ... producers first set their sights on Katy Perry, who will be pocketing $25 mil.

Our 'Idol' sources tell us ... none of the previous front-runners -- Lionel Richie, Charlie Puth, Luke Bryan or Keith Urban -- are any closer to signing than they were a few weeks ago. We're told record producer Nile Rodgers has now been tossed in the mix.

The issue with Lionel, we're told, is his team's asking around $10 mil ... double what they want to pay. 'A.I.' producers are also still debating whether to go with 3 or 4 judges. At this point it all comes down to money, but it sounds like they'd like 4.

Auditions for 'Idol' hopefuls kick off Thursday in Orlando, but filmed auditions in front of the judges don't begin until the end of Sept.

So there's still time ... but it's getting dicey.

'American Idol' Charlie Puth Joins Lionel Richie As Judge Front-runners

7/26/2017 10:50 AM PDT
EXCLUSIVE

"American Idol" is getting closer to assembling a full squad -- the show's zeroing in on finalists to join Katy Perry on the judges' panel.

'Idol' sources tell TMZ ... Lionel Richie's still a favorite to fill one of the 2 remaining seats, and singer Charlie Puth has emerged as a front-runner for the other one. We're told show execs will meet with ABC this week to finalize their choices and make offers.

There could be a country curveball, though ... our sources say Luke Bryan is in the mix because he impressed producers in early discussions. Also, if things don't work out with 2 of those 3 ... we're told Keith Urban is an 'Idol' vet who could slide in as an alternate.

Katy and Ryan are anxiously waiting to see who joins 'em.

'American Idol' Scotty McCreery Busted For Loaded Gun At Airport

7/21/2017 3:57 PM PDT
Breaking News

"American Idol" winner Scotty McCreery was busted trying to bring a loaded handgun on a plane ... according to reports.

McCreery went through a security X-ray checkpoint at Raleigh-Durham International Airport in North Carolina last week when the weapon was spotted. The black, 9mm, Smith & Wesson handgun was in the singer's backpack ... the screen also picked up two boxes of ammo with 63 bullets.

Target practice today

A post shared by Scotty McCreery Official (@scottymccreery) on

Reports say McCreery does have a permit to carry a concealed handgun ... but that doesn't allow him to carry a loaded one on a plane. 

The season 10 'Idol' winner was cited with a misdemeanor violation for the incident.

Scotty tells us he'd been out shooting a few days before the flight and forgot the gun and ammo was still with him, he says he had his concealed weapon permit on him.

'American Idol' Haley Reinhart Bouncer Charged for Beating Her Friend

7/20/2017 11:00 AM PDT
EXCLUSIVE

The bouncer seen on video choking "American Idol" alum Haley Reinhart's friend has been arrested and charged with multiple felonies ... TMZ has learned.

Adam Sobanski -- the bearded guy in a purple shirt -- was busted Wednesday and charged with 2 felony counts of aggravated battery ... strangling and aggravated battery causing great bodily harm.

Authorities say Adam had no legal justification for the choke hold that caused Alan Chislof difficulty breathing. The great bodily harm charge comes from Sobanski allegedly striking Chislof in the face several times with a closed fist.

TMZ broke the story ... Haley and her friends got in the middle of a melee with bouncers at Lamplighter Inn. Chislof suffered a concussion, lacerations to his temple and just above eye, bruising and hematoma.

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