It looks as if "American Idol" judge Kara DioGuardi's seat at the judges' table is in jeopardy. Nigel Lythgoe is in talks to return as executive producer next season, and there may be only three judges at the table. Word on the street is that Lythgoe will take one of the seats himself, with the other two going to Randy Jackson and Ellen DeGeneres.
Lythgoe left "Idol" in 2008 to focus on "So You Think You Can Dance." In April, he told the press he thought "Idol" had become too much about the judges and not enough about the music, which prompted rumors that all the judges would be replaced by less famous names if Lythgoe returned.
Ellen DeGeneres, however, has a multiyear contract, and Randy Jackson is signed with "Idol" through 2011. DioGuardi was the only one who had a year-to-year contract with the show, and as of yet, she hasn't signed one for this season. However, in late July, DioGuardi said she was "ready to find new talent and great talent" on the upcoming season of "Idol," which will be its 10th.
DioGuardi may not get the chance to do so. If there are four judges, and Lythgoe does return, show creator Simon Fuller may want a bigger name in the fourth judge's seat. Names being thrown around include Justin Timberlake, Elton John and Bret Michaels.
A Latin Grammy-winning singer-songwriter and record producer, DioGuardi joined "Idol" in 2008 as a fourth judge. She's currently also Executive Vice President of Talent Development at Warner Bros. Records.