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J-Lo is new Idol judge

ELLEN DeGeneres is dancing off American Idol after one season and Jennifer Lopez is poised to step in.

Lopez is close to signing a deal to join Fox TV's hit singing contest as a judge, sources said yesterday.

Lopez, an actress, singer and dancer whose films include Selena and The Back-Up Plan, has appeared as a mentor on the show.

Fox declined to comment. However, DeGeneres announced yesterday that she is leaving the show after one season, following fellow judge Simon Cowell out the door. Fox has yet to announce a replacement for Cowell.

Cowell departed after the season finale in May to start a new talent show for the network.

Those under consideration for his spot, according to reports, are a varied group that includes Steven Tyler and Harry Connick Jr.


New faces on the panel could help the show reinvent itself in its tenth season, as it tries to stem a ratings slide and bring in younger viewers.

The American Idol audience has been gradually ageing, and advertisers prefer to pitch to young adults.

With audition episodes featuring the judging panel set to begin filming in September for the show's return in January, the pressure is on to announce the new judges.

Talk show host and comedienne DeGeneres said yesterday she realised that while she "loved discovering, supporting and nurturing young talent, it was hard for me to judge people and sometimes hurt their feelings".

Judge Kara DioGuardi, who was added to the panel two years ago, is not under contract for next year and Fox has not announced whether she'll return. Original judge Randy Jackson is the fourth panel member.