Jennifer Lopez Nearing New Idol Deal

You have to go back to Seasons 6 and 7 of American Idol to find the last time the judging panel remained unchanged for consecutive seasons, but it’s looking more and more like last spring’s trio will return in full, despite all of the “Gee, I dunno” posturing coming from the camp of Jennifer Lopez.

The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Lopez and Fox are nearing an agreement for the judge to return in 2012, though this deal, like her first, would be for just one season. Lopez’s people would not comment, nor would Fox, though Idol producer Cecile Frot-Coutaz sounded vaguely optimistic. “We’re in good shape. No worries. No dark clouds on the horizon,” she said.

Whenever she’s been asked about next season during the past two months, Lopez has always professed to be undecided about coming back. But you don’t have to be an insider to assume that she was looking for a hefty increase on the $12 million she reportedly made during Season 10, much less than Steven Tyler was said to have cleared. Given that the ratings for Idol defied expectations by holding up, Lopez was in a strong position to ask for more money.

But Lopez may need Idol as much as vice versa. The show has raised her profile to a level it hasn’t been in years, even leaving aside the current tabloid notoriety after the breakup of her marriage to Marc Anthony. But her ability to carry a movie again is questionable, and the Latin-based reality show she was working on with Anthony is likely even more so. Now that Lopez has America on her side in a way it hasn’t been since before she and Ben Affleck made pests of themselves, it might be a bad idea to risk that over a few million dollars.