By Michael Slezak
Updated September 15, 2010 at 04:43 PM EDT

Image Credit: F Micelotta/Getty ImagesIn the latest round of frantic media reports about who’ll be seated at the judges’ table for American Idol‘s 10th season, there’s been frequent speculation that the show’s producers are scrambling to get their panel finalized and start shooting audition rounds before the month is over. But that’s simply not the case, says a source close to the show. “The urgency is not there. It only exists in the press,” says the Idol insider. “People need to just chill.”

In seasons past, says my source, producers had to consider Simon Cowell’s British TV commitments — specifically his judging duties on The X Factor — when scheduling the callback rounds where the next generation of Kelly Clarksons and David Cooks try out in front of Idol‘s celebrity judges. With Cowell out of the mix, that timetable pressure has all but evaporated.

What’s more, Idol hasn’t even completed the cattle-call portion of its season 10 auditions, where tens of thousands of hopefuls sing their hearts out for field producers in the hopes of scoring a return engagement in front of the judges — and Fox’s cameras. Earlier this month, Fox announced that it was holding a Sept. 22 audition at The Forum in Los Angeles, and a second source close to the production tells me there’s no way the judges will start callbacks in other cities before that date.

In that event, the earliest that the season 10 panel might convene would be the week of Sept. 27 — and even that is no guarantee. Callbacks could conceivably start in October or November without dooming the production. “It would just mean more editing in a shorter period of time,” says the Idol insider, noting that last year, Hollywood Week — the stage that follows the judges’ callbacks — didn’t begin till January.

For the last month, Jennifer Lopez, Aerosmith frontman Steven Tyler, and returning judge Randy Jackson have been reported as front-runners for a three-person season 10 panel. Spokespersons for Fox, Fremantle, and 19 Entertainment declined comment for this story.

For all my Idol news and commentary, follow me on Twitter @EWMichaelSlezak.