Image Credit: Sylvain Gaboury/PR Photos(2); Bob Charlotte/PR PhotosHer boots are made for…judging? Reality TV staple and singer Jessica Simpson has met with American Idol producers about joining the show’s judging panel, a source close to the show tells EW, confirming a report on TMZ this afternoon. “I’m not sure whether her people approached Idol, or if it was the other way around,” said the source, who added that Simpson is just one of “dozens” of candidates who’ve been considered for an Idol gig when it returns to the air in January 2011.
As was widely reported yesterday, former Idol executive producer Nigel Lythgoe is all but certain to return to the show for its tenth season, and he went on the record last spring saying he favored an entirely new slate of judges for Fox’s ratings juggernaut. Translation? The network may be looking for more than a replacement for the departing Simon Cowell, who jumped ship at the end of Idol‘s ninth season in order to launch a U.S.-based version of his popular British series The X Factor. Complicating matters could be the fact that current judge Randy Jackson is reportedly signed through next year, and his colleague Ellen DeGeneres has only completed the first year of a multi-year deal.
“The network’s dream scenario would be to make a splashy announcement at TCA on Monday morning,” said the source, referring to Fox’s presentation at the 2010 TCA Press Tour that is scheduled for August 2. “They’d be the talk of TCA, and the message to other networks would essentially be, ‘Follow that!'”
EW has also learned that despite their names surfacing as potential Cowell replacements earlier this week, both Justin Timberlake and Elton John’s meetings with Idol producers took place “a couple months ago.”
[Related: ‘American Idol’ 15 Ways to Fix It; ‘Idolatry’: Allison Iraheta performs acoustic ‘Holiday,’ talks ‘Glam Nation’ tour; ‘American Idol’ season 9 tour review: Newark, we have a problem!; follow Slezak on Twitter @EWMichaelSlezak.]