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Ex 'American Idol' Exec

It Was Time to Go

5/11/2015 12:32 PM PDT BY TMZ STAFF
EXCLUSIVE

It's better to leave a little early than a little late ... so says former "American Idol" executive producer Nigel Lythgoe ... who agrees it was time to put the legendary show to bed. 

We got Nigel in New York City ... just hours after the news broke that FOX was pulling the plug on 'AI' after one more season. 

Lythgoe -- who was EP during the show's heyday -- was a little surprised, but says bowing out now ... will actually enhance the show's legacy. Watch, his theory makes sense.

As they say in rock and roll: Better to burn out, than fade away.

Speaking of which ... Season one co-host Brian Dunkelman couldn't resist reacting to Idol's demise.

R.I.P.

'American Idol'

5/11/2015 5:58 AM PDT BY TMZ STAFF
breaking news

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"American Idol" -- once the king of all reality shows and the godfather of shows like "The Voice" and "The X Factor" -- will be sent off to pasture in 2016. It was 15 seasons old. 

"Idol" began in 2002 and at its height averaged 30 million viewers a season. The show introduced Simon Cowell to the United States and made Ryan Seacrest a household name. 

Among the singers who owe their careers to the show: Carrie Underwood, Kelly Clarkson, Jennifer Hudson, Jordin Sparks, Ruben Studdard, Fantasia Barrino and Taylor Hicks. "Idol" even briefly brought Paula Abdul back into the limelight. 

Fact is ... on multiple levels it's one of the most successful shows in the history of television. 

The final season of the show will begin next January. 

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Katharine McPhee

Touched

By Estranged Hubby

5/5/2015 2:40 PM PDT BY TMZ STAFF

0505-katherine-mcphee-splash-02Katharine McPhee's estranged husband gave her a hand Tuesday ... a very gentle hand.

It's a stark contrast to her split with Nick Cokas, which allegedly came after Katharine was photographed sucking face with her "Smash" director Michael Morris. Katharine claimed in the documents she was already separated from Nick, but he says they were still together.

But things change ... or do they? A source close to Katharine insists Katharine and Nick had a friendly business breakfast in West Hollywood. He's still involved in her music stuff.

The source also says Katharine has a boyfriend. 

Ryan Seacrest

Dating a Single Mom!

3/10/2015 11:15 AM PDT BY TMZ STAFF
EXCLUSIVE

Ryan Seacrest DatingRyan Seacrest clearly has a type -- hot and blonde -- but his new girl is different in one big way ... she has a bambino.

The "American Idol" host was spotted out this weekend in NYC with a new blonde -- Renée Hall

Hall (who is ... shocker!!! ... a model) met Seacrest, fresh off his breakup with model Shayna Taylor, at his 40th birthday party in Napa a few weeks ago.

0310-shayna-renee-instagram-4We're told they met through the Marciano brothers (GUESS founders) and quickly hit it off.

Seacrest took Hall to NYC over the weekend, where they went to the Museum of Modern Art.

As for Hall's 8-year-old son, she's proud and loud, posting pics all over her Instagram page.

Ryan would be a cool stepdad, right?

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'American Idol' Josh Gracin

Nothing to Lose in Divorce ...

But Half His Music

2/27/2015 12:40 AM PST BY TMZ STAFF
EXCLUSIVE

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It's a good thing "American Idol" Season 2 finalist Josh Gracin is a country singer -- he just got a ton of inspiration by losing half his music rights in his divorce ... which was just finalized.

According to divorce docs ... the exes divvied up their assets, and Ann Gracin is walking with a 50% stake in 24 songs Josh recorded during their 17-year marriage.

Josh will also shell out $1590/month in alimony, and $1436/month for child support. They have four kids -- and will share custody, but there's a complication. Each has a restraining order against the other, requiring them to stay at least 25 feet away.  

Interestingly, Ann was ordered to return Josh's Glock. As we reported ... Josh was placed on a 5150 psychiatric hold after posting an apparent suicide threat on Facebook last August. Ann filed divorce papers the next month.

Josh's next album should be interesting.

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Phillip Phillips

I Want to be Gone, Gone, Gone

From My 'Idol' Contract

1/26/2015 10:16 AM PST BY TMZ STAFF
breaking news
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Phillip Phillips
says "American Idol" producers are ruining his career ... and he wants out of his contract with them before he goes in the dumper.

Phillips claims 19 Entertainment has held him down since he won the competition in 2012. Phillips claims 19 controls every aspect of his career and has made decisions that only benefit them and actually hurt him.

Phillips mentions one concert -- where he was forced to perform a free show for a JetBlue ad, and 19 flat out told him he had to do it because it benefited the "American Idol" live concert tour.

He also says they have kept him in the dark to the point he wasn't even consulted about the title to one of his albums and only found out when he heard about it in the media.

Phillips goes on and on, claiming it's typical "in the life of a rising star" for the record company to give him a better deal, yet 19 never asked Interscope to cut him a break. As you know, Jimmy Iovine who ran Interscope until recently was also a mentor on "Idol."

Phillip says the 19 contract is so one-sided it's illegal, and he's asking for the Labor Commission to let him out.  

The story broke in the Hollywood Reporter.

update_graphic_red_barThe rep for 19 Entertainment tells TMZ, "We have always acted in the best interest of Phillip. We will vigorously defend ourselves from any baseless claims to the contrary and from any attempt to interfere with our rights and relationships." Translation ... they're gonna fight him.
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Jennifer Lopez --

My Choice in Men Just Sucks!

1/8/2015 8:29 AM PST BY TMZ STAFF
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Jennifer Lopez just massacred Marc Anthony, Ben Affleck, Diddy and worst of all ... Casper Smart!

JLo had a little truth slip on "American Idol" Wednesday night ... letting fellow judges Harry Connick Jr. and Keith Urban in on a secret -- she's awesome, but the problem lies with the men she chooses. 

We forgot poor Chris Judd. She thinks he sucks too.

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The 9

'American Idol's

Who Time Forgot

1/7/2015 1:20 PM PST BY TMZ STAFF
1x1
Not all "American Idol" winners are created equal. They can't all be Kelly Clarkson.

Jog your memory with the 9 "AI" champs whose careers hit a bum note.

9. Scott McCreery -- Season 10


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Rings a faint bell.



8. Ruben Studdard -- Season 2


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Oh yeah -- that guy.



7. Kris Allen -- Season 8


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He sings that one song, right?



6. David Cook -- Season 7


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A lot of dudes won this thing, huh?



5. Taylor Hicks -- Season 5


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Uh ... whose dad is this?



4. Lee DeWyze -- Season 9


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Nope, no memory.



3. Candice Glover -- Season 12


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Who's that now?



2. Caleb Johnson -- Season 13


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Come again?



1. Brian Dunkleman -- Season 1 Co-Host


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Ah, the ultimate "Idol" flop.

'American Idol'

Racial Suit Dismissed

You Snooze You Lose, Judge Says

11/20/2014 2:25 PM PST BY TMZ STAFF
breaking news
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"American Idol" is NOT racist against Black contestants -- the lawsuit filed by 10 former Idol wannabes who claimed they were cut over race ... has been dismissed, but mostly on a technicality.

TMZ broke the story ... the contestants claimed "Idol" producers dug up criminal charges from their pasts -- including crimes for which they were never convicted -- and this was done strictly because they're Black.

According to new court docs, however ... all but 1 of them waited too long to file their cases, and since the statute of limitations ran out ... they had no leg to stand on. A judge tossed the cases.

The one who DID file in time -- Chris Golightly ... had his case dismissed when "Idol" proved to the court the reason he was booted was because he'd violated a show rule by being in a band.

Idol -- 10 ... Plaintiffs -- 0

Michael Johns

Enlarged Heart Killed Him

11/18/2014 8:15 AM PST BY TMZ STAFF
EXCLUSIVE
Michael Johns Autopsy"American Idol" singer Michael Johns died from an enlarged heart, but a "fatty liver" contributed to his death ... this according to the Coroner's report.

The 35-year-old singer died suddenly Aug. 1 after his leg became swollen and bruised ... reportedly from a sprained ankle. Family sources claimed the injury had triggered a blood clot, but his best friend claimed the singer drank himself to death.

The Orange County Coroner's report concludes Johns died of natural causes -- the result of a disease called dilated cardiomyopathy, a condition that inhibits the flow of blood to the body. The disease caused his heart to enlarge.

As for the "fatty liver" ... it can be caused by excessive alcohol intake, but there are other causes as well. Law enforcement told us ... Johns often drank to excess and did so hours before he died.

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Scott MacIntyre

I Need a New Kidney

Or Music Career Is Kaput

11/2/2014 7:57 AM PST BY TMZ STAFF
110214_scott_macintyre_launch"American Idol" Season 8 finalist Scott MacIntyre says he's got 6 months until his kidney gives out ... and if he doesn't get a new one before then -- his music career is in serious jeopardy.

MacIntyre and his wife were out Saturday night in Hollywood when he told us he's currently waiting for a donor ... but he's hopeful about getting one before his kidney completely fails.

For those interested, Scott told our photog where he's listed ... and said people have already promised him they'd get tested to see if they're a match.

Good luck Scott, we're rooting for you.

'American Idol' Contestant

Joanne Borgella Dead at 32

From 'Rare Case' of Cancer

10/18/2014 3:58 PM PDT BY TMZ STAFF
breaking news
101814_joanne_borgella_launch_v2Former "American Idol" contestant Joanne Borgella died Saturday at the age of 32 ... after fighting for the past year against what she described as a "rare case" of cancer.

Borgella's family broke the news on her Facebook page Saturday ... saying the singer passed away around 5:45 A.M. -- adding, "Her faith, courage and strength were unshaken throughout every obstacle she encountered."

Joanne was the first winner of "Mo'Nique's Fat Chance" using the name "Miss F.A.T." in 2005. In 2008, she was on Season 7 of "A.I." and made it into the top 12 girls category.

Last year, Joanne said her cancer was rare because it had spread to her chest -- the family's post on Facebook described it as endometrial cancer ... a form of cancer that attacks the lining of the womb.

101814_joanne_borgella_hospital_launchBorgella last updated her social media pages about her battle in September ... and said she was going back to radiation for 2 more procedures.

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Katharine McPhee Divorce

You're Still My ATM

... Says Ex

9/29/2014 12:40 AM PDT BY TMZ STAFF
EXCLUSIVE
Katharine McPhee Divorce
Katharine McPhee's about to score a huge paycheck ... but she probably shouldn't blow it on a new Maserati ... because her soon-to-be-ex Nick Cokas gets half.

Columbia/Epic Records still owes Kat $700K according to court docs ... and she concedes it's community property -- meaning Nick gets half.

As we've reported ... the divorce is bitter ... Nick's accusing Katharine of banging "Smash" director Michael Morris and then lying about it. It really doesn't legally matter, but he's pissed.

And here's the REALLY awkward part ... we're told Kat and Nick are still joined at the hip ... he's still her manager ... and it will stay that way until his contract with her ends sometime next year.

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