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Thursday July 29, 2010 6:23 pm

UPDATE: DeGeneres Leaves American Idol, More Changes Possibly Coming

Ellen DeGeneres

UPDATE: No announcements are expected from FOX on Monday.
UPDATE: Jennifer Lopez has reportedly closed a deal to be one of the new judges.

Will it be Chris Isaak or Harry Connick Jr. on American Idol next season? Could it be Isaak and Connick? Or how about this: Isaak, Connick and Jessica Simpson?

These all could be very real scenarios as rumors about a total show makeover grow.

Prior to this week, Idol chatter had primarily been focused on Simon Cowell’s replacement. Then former executive producer Nigel Lythgoe came back into the picture. Then Ellen DeGeneres announced her departure.

Read More | Ellen

After only one season on the show, Ellen – who was still in the middle of a two-year contact – has decided to leave the reality competition. The talk show host issued a statement today about the reported mutual decision.

“A couple months ago, I let FOX and the American Idol producers know that this didn’t feel like the right fit for me. I told them I wouldn’t leave them in a bind and that I would hold off on doing anything until they were able to figure out where they wanted to take the panel next. It was a difficult decision to make, but my work schedule became more than I bargained for. I also realized this season that while I love discovering, supporting and nurturing young talent, it was hard for me to judge people and sometimes hurt their feelings. I loved the experience working on Idol and I am very grateful for the year I had. I am a huge fan of the show and will continue to be.”

“We love Ellen and understand and support her decision to bow out of Idol. We were fortunate to receive the humor, energy and love for talent that she brought to the show,” Peter Rice, the FOX entertainment chairman, said.

DeGeneres’ voluntary exit may have made things easier Lythgoe. The current So You Think You Can Dance judge/exec. producer is expected to return to his old Idol post after two years away. Lythgoe, who has criticized Idol since his departure, has already made it known that he would like to see a drastic change at the judges’ table.

Cue Jessica Simpson.

The reality star/singer is one of the newest names supposedly in the running to be a part of Season 10. Although it’s unclear whether she pursued the job or someone pursed her, TMZ claims the Jessica has had several meetings already with Idol execs.

Justin Timberlake and Elton John’s names have also been whispered about recently, though both musicians reportedly met with the producers “a couple months ago.”

Meanwhile, Sean Combs is the latest entrepreneur – if we seriously count Donald Trump – to express interest in the position. Diddy told George Lopez that he would definitely take on Cowell’s old job – provided he get paid Cowell-sized numbers.

So what does this all mean for Randy Jackson and Kara DioGuardi? Since Jackson still has one year left on his contract, it’s highly possible he’ll still be with the program. DioGuardi, in the meantime, has not yet seen a contract renewal.

Whatever happens – it’s believed we’ll know the final results by Monday. That’s when FOX is scheduled to make a presentation at the Television Critics Association (TCA) press tour.

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