Jennifer Lopez has been approached by Fox execs to return to "American Idol" for the balance of the season ... to replace Mariah Carey ... sources connected with the network confirm to TMZ.
We've learned Lopez will appear on the now ratings-challenged show on May 16 to debut her new single, but Fox has bigger ideas -- they want to stop the hemorrhaging quickly and bring the former judge back on the show. The Hollywood Reporter first posted the story that JLo could be returning.
And the show is in trouble. Last week's ratings were the worst since the show debuted in 2002.
Sources tell us Fox is scrambling to find a solution, and ironically they think Lopez could be the answer. We say ironically because network execs would not ante up the cash JLo wanted to stay on the show this season.
We're told as of now ... no deal has been made.
UPDATE: A Fox spokesperson tells TMZ ... "This is just another ridiculous "Idol" judge rumor, likely started by talks of Jennifer performing on the finale."
Clay Aiken 911 Call
Creepy Alleged Intruder Is
4/21/2013 5:00 AM PDT BY TMZ STAFF
Clay Aiken's alleged stalker really wanted to get a good look inside the singer's house ... because according to the 911 call, the woman was armed with binoculars when she hopped his fence.
TMZ broke the story ... 57-year-old Barbara Saylor was arrested outside Clay's North Carolina house April 3rd after allegedly hopping his fence and then peering inside his front window. Clay was home.
It wasn't apparent just how bizarre the incident was ... until now. Check out the 911 tape.
Babs was eventually arrested for stalking and trespassing. She's due in court April 24.
Alleged Stalker Arrested After Scary Home Encounter
4/9/2013 12:40 AM PDT BY TMZ STAFF
Frightening moment for Clay Aiken ... when an obsessed fan broke on to his property and made it all the way to his front door ... this according to police docs obtained by TMZ.
According to the docs, it all went down on April 3 ... when the fan -- 57-year-old Barbara Saylor -- snuck into Clay's gated community in North Carolina and hopped a fence surrounding the singer's home. Sources connected to the incident tell us the woman was seen trying to peer into a window at the front of the house.
The scary part -- Clay was home at the time.
Someone called 911 -- and cops responded to the scene. Barbara was eventually arrested for misdemeanor stalking and misdemeanor first degree trespassing.
According to the docs, Clay told police it's not the first time the woman -- who lives in the Seattle area -- crashed Clay's N.C. pad. Aiken told cops Barbara had previously "thrown her phone over the fence and reported she had been invited by the victim when actually she had not been."
Sources close to Clay tell TMZ ... the singer was shaken up by the incident ... but he's grateful to local law enforcement for responding so quickly.
The woman is due in court on April 24.
I WOULD Let Justin Bieber
Mentor 'Idols', BUT ...
3/31/2013 7:14 AM PDT BY TMZ STAFF
Justin Bieber's recent wave of d-bag shenanigans has not gone unnoticed in the music world ... so when we asked "American Idol" honcho Nigel Lythgoe if the Biebs was "Idol" mentor material, his response was ... mixed.
Nigel was out in Malibu and our photog questioned whether Lythgoe would consider having JB on the show to help shape the minds of "AI" hopefuls. A valid question in light of Bieber's recent run of speeding tickets, fights, drugs, monkey smuggling ... you get it.
Nigel's response is pretty hilarious and he also addressed whether or not Nicki Minaj is welcome back on the show next season.
'Dancing With the Stars'
Casts First Former 'Idol'
2/24/2013 1:50 PM PST BY TMZ STAFF
The two biggest reality shows on the planet are about to come together -- TMZ has learned the identity of four of the contestants for this season of "Dancing With the Stars" ... including the first ever former "American Idol" wannabe.
"DWTS" has not revealed their cast for the upcoming season yet ... but sources close to the show tell TMZ that Kellie Pickler -- everyone's favorite country bumpkin from season five of "Idol" -- will be doing this season of "DWTS."
In addition to Pickler, our sources say country star Wynonna Judd, "Bachelor" star Sean Lowe and 2012 Olympic gold medal winning gymnast Aly Raisman are among this year's cast.
Not that TMZ condones gambling, but put $20 down on Raisman -- three former Olympians have won the show in the past. You're welcome.
A rep for the show tells TMZ, "We do not comment on casting rumors, but tune in to 'GMA' on Tuesday when we reveal the cast live!"
'American Idol' Winner
Phillip Phillips' Mother
Popped for DUI
2/14/2013 1:06 PM PST BY TMZ STAFF
Phillip Phillips' mother Sheryl Phillips -- who appeared on several episodes of "American Idol" during Phillip's championship run last season -- was arrested for DUI earlier today, TMZ has learned.
Law enforcement officials tell us, an undercover unit observed Sheryl swerving her van across lanes of traffic in Albany, Georgia -- and pulled her over.
We're told ... based on what officers observed after the stop ... they had reason to believe Sheryl was under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs.
According to law enforcement, officers administered a field sobriety test and Sheryl was unable to complete it.
Cops took her into custody and transferred her to a nearby hospital, where doctors decided she was well enough to go to jail. She's currently being booked in Dougherty County.
A source close to the family tells us, Phillip's parents split up last week.
Phillip has famously had a strained relationship with his family, refusing to help financially after their pawn shop went out of business.
Thanks to the Albany Herald for the arrest pic.
Is Now a Dirty, Singing
2/13/2013 8:45 AM PST BY TMZ STAFF
So, there we were ... giving one of our awesome TMZ Hollywood Tours this week ... when we spotted this dirty, hippie-looking dude playing a guitar on the side of the road with a giant stuffed gorilla.
And then we realized ... the beatnik was former "American Idol" finalist Casey Abrams.
The whole encounter was kinda strange ... a shoe-less Casey scatted his way through a song ... and then laid down on the ground with his giant blue stuffed animal, while waving to the people on the bus (totally nice guy).
We're guessing Casey is pulling the stunt to promote something ... then again, maybe he really did go full Joaquin Phoenix.
Either way, check out the video -- kinda crazy.
Dear 'Idol' Rejects ...
Don't Use ME in Legal War!!
2/2/2013 5:30 AM PST BY TMZ STAFF
Former "American Idol" contestant Jermaine Jones has a message for the "Idol" castoffs threatening to sue the show for racism -- keep his name THE HELL OUT OF IT!!
Jermaine -- who was disqualified from "A.I." back in March 2012 for outstanding arrest warrants -- tells TMZ ... he is "offended" his name was cited in the current legal battle brewing between the reality show and several former contestants.
TMZ broke the story ... nine African-American ex-contestants are threatening to sue the show, claiming "A.I." honchos are targeting black contestants for disqualification ... by using illegal background checks.
In legal docs ... the lawyer for the "Idol 9" cited Jermaine's premature elimination -- which only happened after a background check revealed his prior arrests -- as a catalyst for the planned lawsuit.
But Jermaine tells us ... "I am offended they tried to paint me as a victim of discrimination."
He continues, "I appreciate the experience from 'Idol' and embraced the good and bad from it."
Jermaine believes the "Idol 9" are using him for publicity -- but he adds, "I have moved on with my life ... and have not authorized them to include me in the accusations."
Former 'Idol' Contestants
Nigel Gave Us Our Break
... But We're Still Suing
1/28/2013 4:30 AM PST BY TMZ STAFF
Just months before ex "American Idol" contestants Terrell and Derrell Brittenum took legal action against the show -- over allegations of racism -- they publicly THANKED Nigel Lythgoe for giving them their big break.
TMZ broke the story ... the twins -- along with seven other African-American former contestants -- are planning to sue ... claiming "A.I." unfairly targets black contestants by using information obtained by illegal criminal background checks ... in order to disqualify them from the competition and boost ratings.
But get this ... TMZ obtained footage of Terrell and Derrell back in September ... which tells a very different story.
Specifically the brothers spot Nigel out in NYC -- they were all attending the same Broadway show -- and couldn't be happier with the encounter, even unleashing a massive hug session on the "A.I." head honcho.
Not only that, one brother points to Nigel and exclaims "Mr. Nigel Lythgoe, who gave me MY start!"
Talk about a 180 ...
The Show Is NOT RACIST
1/27/2013 1:30 PM PST BY TMZ STAFF
Four "American Idol" finalists from different seasons -- two of whom are black -- insist the singing competition is many things ... but racist is NOT one of them.
TMZ broke the story ... nine black ex-contestants are planning to sue "Idol" producers, claiming the contestants were publicly disqualified based on their dubious criminal backgrounds ... solely because they're African-American.
But Season 6 finalist Melinda Doolittle adamantly disagrees, telling TMZ, "It is shocking to see such allegations. In my experience on the show, the 'Idol' team strives to champion everyone, regardless of race. However, each contestant is explicitly told that the withholding of information that may compromise the show or artist, can and will result in immediate disqualification."
Season 4 finalist Vonzell Solomon adds, "I didn’t experience any of that [racial discrimination] ... all of our contracts were clear about how the background checks worked and that we could be disqualified if we lied about our past."
Two other former contestants -- Season 5 winner Taylor Hicks and Season 10 finalist Casey Abrams -- also agree.
Casey says, "I don't know why they are biting the hand that fed them. Those guys beat thousands of people who wanted to be on TV. Idol is picky, but I'm not sure about racist."
Taylor -- whose Vegas show is still going strong -- adds, "American Idol is for everyone. All walks of life go through the show. Not once did I see the show discriminate towards anyone. It’s all about the votes."
FYI -- "Idol" has had three black winners in its history ... Ruben Studdard, Fantasia Barrino and Jordin Sparks.
Fox and "Idol" producers have yet to respond to the allegations.
'American Idol' Contestant
Look Ma ...
No More Crutches!
1/26/2013 3:35 AM PST BY TMZ STAFF
The "American Idol" contestant who was seriously injured in an accident 3 DAYS before her audition is finally back on her feet ... and off the crutches ... after undergoing 3 OPERATIONS to fix her busted leg ... TMZ has learned.
In case you missed it ... Megan Miller -- aka Miss Baton Rouge -- scored a golden ticket to Hollywood ... after blowing off a doctor-recommended surgery to treat an infection.
TMZ spoke with Miller ... who tells us she went straight to the surgeon after her audition ... and had to spend a week in the hospital to recover.
Now, Miller says her leg's all healed up ... and she's focusing all of her attention on prepping for Hollywood week.
As for whether the injury will affect her ability to compete, Megan says she's not worried ... "Unless they make us do a marathon."
Accused of RACISM
by 9 Black Ex-Contestants
1/25/2013 7:00 AM PST BY TMZ STAFF
Nine black former "American Idol" contestants -- from various seasons -- are banding together to SUE the show ... claiming they were all FORCED off "Idol" as part of a racist (and illegal) plot to boost ratings.
TMZ has obtained a letter, submitted to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission by NY attorney James H. Freeman -- in which he asks for permission to sue Idol and FOX on behalf of his clients ... who have all appeared on the show: FYI, Freeman is required to file with the EEOC before filing suit.
Corey Clark (Season 2), Jaered Andrews (Season 2), Donnie Williams (Season 3), Terrell Brittenum (Season 5), Derrell Brittenum (Season 5), Thomas Daniels (Season 6), Akron Watson (Season 6), Ju'Not Joyner (Season 8) and Chris Golightly (Season 9).
In his letter, Freeman claims he noticed something fishy about "Idol" when Jermaine Jones was kicked off on March 15, 2012. Producers had claimed Jones failed to inform them about multiple outstanding warrants out for his arrest.
Freeman claims he conducted an investigation into the show -- and found that producers had only publicly disqualified 9 other people from the show since it first hit the air ... and they all happened to be black.
Freeman now alleges that "Idol" has been conducting a "cruel and inhumane" scheme to exploit and humiliate black contestants for ratings.
According to the letter, Freeman believes the annual "scheme" begins during the background check stage of the show -- when producers ask wannabe contestants the question -- "Have you ever been arrested?"
Freeman claims the question is a violation of CA employment law ... and since his clients were essentially applying for "employment" with Idol, the show was FORBIDDEN from asking contestants about their arrest history.
But Freeman claims ... the ill-gotten information from the question, coupled with arrest records obtained by private investigators working for Idol, were used to humiliate the black Idol contestants on national TV ... and in the process, perpetuated "destructive stereotypes" about black people.
Freeman also claims the show made his clients appear to be "violent criminals, liars and sexual deviants" ... when they weren't.
What's more ... Freeman claims the show has "NEVER once publicly disqualified a white or non-black American Idol contestant in the history of the eleven season production."
According to Freeman, NONE of the contestants who were disqualified from the show based on their criminal backgrounds were convicted of the crimes for which they were charged at the time of their disqualification.
But Freeman adds, "Yet their personal and professional lives remain permanently and severely impaired by [the show's] continuing violations of our nation's laws."
Freeman's letter is the first step towards a lawsuit -- and we're told as soon as he gets the green light from the EEOC, he plans to file the docs in court.
We spoke to "Idol" honcho Nigel Lythgoe ... who tells us he was "shocked" by the "ridiculous" allegations.
He explained, "We treat everybody the same ... no matter the race, religion or sex."
"I think we've always had a fantastic share of talent from contestants both black and white ... I don't think I've ever seen racism at the show."
A rep for FOX declined to comment.
FYI -- "Idol" has had 3 African-American winners in its history -- Ruben Studdard, Fantasia Barrino and Jordin Sparks.
'American Idol' Contestant
Sikh Org. Thrilled Over
1/18/2013 12:15 AM PST BY TMZ STAFF
It was judgement day for a singer dubbed "The Turbanator" on "American Idol" Wednesday night ... and TMZ has learned the Sikh community is already hailing the guy as a MASSIVE success.
In case you missed it ... The Turbanator -- aka Gurpreet Singh Sarin -- won himself a ticket to Hollywood, while proudly sporting one of 50 turbans he claims to own. Dude says he color coordinates his turbans with his outfits.
TMZ spoke to a rep from The Sikh Coalition who tells us they're totally stoked for Sarin ... saying, "The Sikh American community is celebrating Gurpreet's achievement every step of the way."
The rep adds, "We are thrilled that the rest of America is going to learn more about our wonderful community."
Check out the video to see The Turbanator in action ...