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'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.

Ryan Seacrest Finally Lands New 'Idol' Gig

7/20/2017 8:11 AM PDT

Ryan Seacrest can start practicing his "THIS ... is American Idol" line again ... he's finally inked his deal to return as host after months of intense negotiations.

Ryan confirmed the news Thursday on "Live with Kelly and Ryan" ... saying he was excited to return, and likened it to getting back in a relationship after an abrupt breakup.

TMZ broke the story ... Ryan was aiming for somewhere between $10 and $15 million, but the huge hangup was getting the coveted executive producer credit. Sources involved tell us he did not get the title, and his payday will be closer to $10 mil.

There were also logistical challenges. Ryan -- as first reported by TMZ -- would fly back and forth from NYC to L.A. to shoot 'A.I.' ... but a plan was hashed out so none of his jobs would be affected ... including his radio gig.

'American Idol' Haley Reinhart Friend Beaten and Bruised in Bar Brawl Photos Don't Lie

7/17/2017 1:00 AM PDT
EXCLUSIVE

"American Idol" contestant Haley Reinhart's friend suffered horrendous injuries the night she was arrested after a bar bouncer put him in a choke hold and allegedly beat him.

TMZ broke the story, Haley was arrested for allegedly punching the security guard in the face, but she says she was just trying to get the bouncer to release what she thought was a death grip.

Haley's friend, Alan Chislof, suffered a concussion, facial laceration near his right temple, a bad cut above his left eye, facial bruising and hematoma. The choke hold caused blood to flow to his eyes and he looks like he went 5 rounds with Mayweather. He says he's coughing up blood and complaining of chest pain.

Chislof's lawyer, Mark Brown, now promises a lawsuit.

We also got video of the confrontation, and gotta say ... it seems to support Haley's version of events.

'American Idol' Haley Reinhart Bouncers Had Friend in Brutal Choke Hold Moments Before Her Arrest

7/13/2017 10:44 AM PDT
EXCLUSIVE

"American Idol" alum Haley Reinhart's friend was taken down by bouncers and choked so hard ... his entire head was blood red during the bar brawl that led to Haley's arrest.

TMZ obtained video of the melee, and it's intense -- 2 bouncers at the Lamplighter Inn, outside Chicago, had Haley's male friend surrounded and at least one of them had his hands wrapped around the friend's neck.

Haley was right in the middle of the fracas and you see her square off with one of the bouncers, who accuses her of punching him in the head before tossing her out of the bar.

The brutal video seems to support what Haley's attorney told us -- that bar staffers had assaulted one of Haley's friends, leaving him with multiple injuries.

As we first reported, Haley was booked for misdemeanor battery.

'Idol' Alum Haley Reinhart Arrested at Bar Little Chick, Big Punch

7/10/2017 3:07 PM PDT
EXCLUSIVE

Haley's attorney Dina LaPolt tells TMZ ... the bouncers assaulted Haley, without provocation. She also says, "After forcefully removing [Haley] they violently beat her friend, who sustained multiple injuries. We believe that she will be exonerated of all charges once the investigation is completed."

LaPolt added ... Haley plans to take legal action against the bar and the staff.   Former "American Idol" contestant Haley Reinhart got busted for punching a bouncer in the head ... TMZ has learned.

Cops say Haley got arrested early Saturday morning at a suburban Chicago pub called the Lamplighter Inn. Officers showed up around 2 AM after bouncers tossed Haley and some friends for knocking over a table. Cops say as they were being shown the door -- Haley, who stands at a generous 5'2" -- uncorked a closed fist on the bouncer.

She was taken into custody and booked for battery.

Haley went deep into season 10 of 'Idol' ... taking third place. She's currently on the Netflix show "F Is for Family."

Seems like she's vying for a spot in the UFC too.

'American Idol' Seacrest's Secret ABC Meeting Lionel Richie, Nikki Sixx Targeted as Judges

6/28/2017 12:50 AM PDT
EXCLUSIVE

Ryan Seacrest met face-to-face in secret with ABC execs this week to hash out their remaining differences, and sources familiar with the situation tell us  he's close to becoming the host of the reboot.

As we first reported, Seacrest had agreed to a salary between $10 and $15 mil, but the hangup was that he wanted an Executive Producer credit but "A.I." execs said no.  We're told they still haven't fully resolved the conflict, but that should happen.  We're hearing the resistance is that Katy Perry wanted the title but couldn't get it, and the network didn't want to ruffle feathers.

TMZ also broke the story 'A.I.' wanted Lionel Richie to join the judges panel, and our sources say it looks like the deal will be made and he'll get somewhere between $3 and $5 million.  

Our sources say 'A.I.' producers and ABC want Nikki Sixx from Motley Crue as the third judge and he will get less than Richie.

TMZ broke the story, 'A.I.' signed Katy Perry for a whopping $25 mil.

 Our sources say when all is said and done, the show will still be on budget ... which is amazing. 

Lionel Richie Secret 'American Idol' Meeting It IS Me You're Looking For

6/25/2017 12:50 AM PDT
EXCLUSIVE

Lionel Richie secretly met with "American Idol" producers this week and the subject was joining the show ... production sources tell TMZ.

We're told 'A.I.' execs had a sit-down with the legendary singer/producer for 2 hours, and they loved him. Our sources say 'A.I.' honchos now think he'd be a great fit for the show ... they like his "vibe."

It's interesting. We're told execs view him as a "nice judge." That seems to be Katy Perry's M.O. as well. So the third judge -- whom producers have not identified -- will be critical. It's unclear if they want another Simon, or if they're going for warm and fuzzy all 'round.

We're told producers will not negotiate with Richie until Ryan Seacrest's hosting deal is done. We broke the story, Seacrest has agreed to the money -- somewhere between $10M and $15M -- but he wants an executive producer title and 'A.I.' honchos are resisting.

Ryan Seacrest on 'A.I.' The Money's Good ... But Title is Everything

6/23/2017 12:50 AM PDT
EXCLUSIVE

Ryan Seacrest's "done deal" to host the reboot of "American Idol" has hit a snag ... but it's not over money.

TMZ broke the story ... Seacrest and Fremantle Media and Core Media -- the producers of "American Idol"-- have agreed on his salary ... somewhere between $10 million and $15 million, substantially less than Katy Perry's $25M paycheck but definitely not chump change -- but he wants more than a "Host" title.

Sources at Fremantle and Core tell us, Seacrest is asking for an Executive Producer credit but Fremantle is balking, and the stalemate has now lasted more than a week. It's unclear if Seacrest wants day-to-day responsibilities for producing the show -- hard to imagine since there are only 24 hours in a day.

As we reported, we know producers are interested in Lionel Richie as a judge, but we're told they won't sign anyone else until they seal the deal with Seacrest.

Stay tuned.

Lionel Richie 'American Idol' Wants You To Join as Judge

6/19/2017 1:00 AM PDT
EXCLUSIVE

"American Idol" has its sights set on judge #2 for the reboot ... and we're told it's Lionel Richie.

'A.I.' sources tell TMZ ... producers think Richie's legendary music career makes him a perfect pick ... credibility and a knack for honing in on what will become popular. Richie is also extremely outgoing, which makes for good TV.

We don't know if the 'A.I.' folks have formally reached out to Richie. We contacted Richie's people, but so far they're mum.  

The question ... how much can producers afford to pay Richie, or for that matter any judge who fills the vacant seats? They paid a queen's ransom to Katy Perry -- $25 million -- which essentially blew their intended judge's budget.

As we reported ... Ryan Seacrest is about to sign a deal to host the new version for somewhere between $10M and $15M.

Katy Perry I'm Proud Of My $25 Mil ... I Smashed the Glass Ceiling!!

5/23/2017 10:20 AM PDT

Katy Perry's $25 million deal to be the lead judge on "American Idol" wasn't just for her -- she says she struck a blow for women everywhere who've been underpaid to do the same job as a man.

Katy was on NYC'S WKTU radio Tuesday and told "Cubby and Carolina Bermudez In the Morning" ... she's proud as hell her fat paycheck is more than "pretty much" any man made before her.

The pop star goes on to give a preview of what kind of judge she's going to be, and said she's the perfect fit for the show at the perfect time.

As we reported ... Perry's getting paid more than most of her big name 'Idol' predecessors. However, she'll need a massive raise before she matches Simon Cowell's reported $45 mil a year.

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