American Idol: Why Judge Jennifer Lopez will return next season

American Idol Season 10 judge Jennifer Lopez will return to American Idol for the 2012 show, but not without a big raise.

Matt Sayles/AP/FILE
Actress and singer Jennifer Lopez arrives at the American Idol Finale in Los Angeles in May 2011.

Today, American Idol executive producer Nigel Lythgoe confirmed that Jennifer Lopez is returning to Season 11 of the hit Fox TV show.

While specific details have not yet been announced, there was plenty of speculation that Ms. Lopez was not willing to come back for the pittance ($12 million in pittances, to be exact) that she was paid for Season 10 . . . . And really who could blame her? She is soon to become a single mother with a divorce from Mark Anthony pending.

So the negotiations dance began. American Idol producers made it clear that they would love her to return. Lopez claimed that while she really enjoyed judging, she needed to explore her options before committing. Interestingly enough, Jennifer Lopez would have far fewer options to consider if it weren't for American Idol; her flailing career was revitalized when she signed on for Season 10. In addition to being named People's "most beautiful woman" in 2011, JLo also used the American Idol stage to promote her new album Love? and the movie deals soon followed; Ice Age 4, What to Expect When You're Expecting, and Parker.

Jennifer Lopez's dance card was filling up quickly.

But despite the revitalization of her career and a $12 million paycheck, in the grand tradition of today's stars, Jennifer Lopez wanted more. And American Idol gave it to her.

Reports are circulating that Jennifer "earned" a 60-percent raise and signed a $20 million contract. No doubt, fellow judge and rock singer Steven Tyler is cursing himself for settling for a 2-year deal.

Many predicted that the departure of Idol judge Simon Cowell would be the beginning of the end for the show. But instead, producers brought in new judges and Season 10 brought a rebound in the ratings. Still, it's hard to believe that American Idol attributes the success of Season 10 to the new judges, who strove so hard to be polite that they managed to become irrelevant in the process. Isn't it possible that Season 10 succeeded in spite of the new judges rather than because of them?

American Idol producers should have learned after Simon's departure that no one is irreplaceable. They could have saved themselves $8 million in the process.

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