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Jennifer Lopez.  Out.  Steven Tyler. Out.  Mariah CareyIn.  I’ll be the first to say I didn’t see that one coming!  American Idol has become a revolving door these days, has it not?

So the big question is, who will round out the judges’ panel?  While rumors run rampant, I can say that there will likely be two seats filled. Why, you ask?  It appears that longtime Idol fixture and judge Randy Jackson will be transitioning into a mentor role.  He certainly has the credentials, and the contestants would surely benefit from his knowledge.

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American Idol‘ casting rumors have been running wild since Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler confirmed they were fired weren’t interested in returning for another season, but we now have official confirmation on at least one new judge – Mariah Carey! 

Mariah signed on the dotted line today and it seems that she and J-Lo have more in common than having twin babies, as Mariah will be paid a whopping $12 million, the same amount that Jennifer was earning during her stint on the show.

TMZ reports that Adam Lambert and Miley Cyrus are still in the running for the other empty seat.

UPDATE:  TMZ now says her paycheck for one season stands at $18 million!

TELL US – DO YOU WANT TO WATCH NOW THAT MARIAH HAS SIGNED ON? DO YOU THINK SHE’S WORTH TWELVE MILLION DOLLARS?

[Photo Credit: Tony Clark/WENN]

Last week both Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler announced they were leaving American Idol to pursue their own careers. However, a new report claims they were actually fired in response to falling ratings – and Jennifer seeking yet another pay raise!

According to The Wrap, Jennifer who was paid $15M last season, asked for a $2M raise to return. In response, Fox said no way, declining to even make her a counter offer! As for Steven, Fox opted not to renew his contract as they are seeking new blood in the hopes of restoring the show to its former dominance in the music competition marketplace.

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Rumors of an American Idol shake-up have been circulating for a while and apparently aging rockers and former fly girls aren’t where it’s at, dawg.

Yesterday Steven Tyler announced he was leaving the show that made him lose all his credibility:

“After some long … hard … thoughts … I’ve decided it’s time for me to let go of my mistress ‘American Idol’ before she boils my rabbit,” the quote references the infamous movie, Fatal Attraction.

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Holy smokes, the American Idol rumors are running rampant! Adam Lambert is reportedly being considered as a judge for season 12 of the reality competition show that made him famous. It would be an easy switch – Jennifer Lopez, who wants to be done with American Idol, moves out and Adam Lambert moves in.

“He personifies the show, and will be a popular choice right from the start,” an unnamed source is quoted telling E! News. “He knows what it’s like to be on the receiving end of the judges’ comments, he has a human touch, and they know they can’t go wrong if they bring him on. He would be able to bring a unique perspective to the show. People love him.”

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And the winner of American Idol is…nah, I won’t give it away until after the jump for those of you who decided to watch Law and Order: SVU (and by “you” I mean me) and save the Idol recap for later.  I actually learned who won right before I started watching.  Thanks DVR and internet.  It’s down to Jessica Sanchez and Phillip Phillips.  Who will it be?  Let’s find out in what may be the most anticlimactic AI finale EVER.  At least that lead in was dramatic, right?   The final twelve perform, and blah, blah, filler, blah.  Really do we need two more hours of Idol after two hours of Idol last night?

After the initial hoopla performance, the judges and Ryan Seacrest are introduced.  Ryan and his bump-it recap the prior evening, making a two hour finale seem like just minutes with his suave style…in just a short two hours, we will have a new American Idol.  He meets with the finalists, and Jessica admits she managed two hours of sleep before her big night.  Smug Phil slept for nine hours.  I want to reach through my television and smack him.  I can’t remember the last time I slept for nine hours straight…and I need it.  I need it bad, people.

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It was the hometown visits for American Idol this week, which on the results show warrants a Simon and Garfunkel montage (loves!) as Joshua Ledet, Phil Phillips, and Jessica Sanchez head back to where their hearts are for a giant, stadium sized homecoming party.  Ryan Seacrest reminds America about the deets of the next week’s final faceoff with his hands casually resting on the backs of Steven Tyler and Jennifer Lopez.  Steven is doing his best Gollum/gargoyle statue impression while JLo looks awkward…probably because she’s not sure she’s going to continue with this gig.  Randy Jackson is confident in his judging abilites, sporting a leather blazer.

After Ryan announces the performers for the evening will be the King’s daughter Lisa Marie Presley and everyone’s favorite Idol alum and eyeliner abusing Adam Lambert, the final three perform a Beatles song.  Yawn.  Bring on the sofa!  As always, an idol fueled Ford commercial is highlighted, with a noticeably absent P PhillyJessica explains she’s happy to make it this far, and regardless of her fate, she’s excited to find out the results.  Phillip and Joshua echo her sentiments…and why shouldn’t they?  History tells us that the runners-up usually do better than the winner anyway.  Reuben Studdard knows what I’m talking about.  J Hud, anyone?

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There are four very talented artists left on American Idol.  Viewers are reminded that the final three get the homecoming of a lifetime.  The event is marked with stellar judge and past winner performances.  It’s almost time to crown the nation’s newest star.  Pretty exciting stuff!  Equally exciting?  Ryan Seacrest seems to be feeling much better.  The audience even gets treated to tickets for the upcoming tour.

The final four perform a Mamas and Papas tribute.  It’s great, and reminds me again how badly I wish I could sing a note.  Product placement abounds, and a Ford video is shown.  The final contestants are excited to be in a commercial…it’s electric!  Everyone touts saving the environment with Ford’s new electric car.  It’s a cute video, but let’s get to the results please!  Phillip Phillips is the first to face the music (literally).  He sang “Have You Ever Seen the Rain” and gains mad praise from the judges.  Randy Jackson calls his performance pitchy to start, but he certainly comes into his own.  Jimmy loved it.  His next time on stage, singing “Volcano” Randy touts that he’s listen to it all day long on his headphones.  Jimmy is beyond impressed.   Ryan sends him back to sofa to wait it out a little longer.  Of course he does…

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