Randy Jackson

Jennifer Lopez

And...

If TMZ is to believed this morning....

And I'm of a mind to believe it...

Drum roll please....

Steven Tyler.

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Now that's a bench.

It almost sounds like the Supreme Court. (By the way, an earlier AP dispatch said Harry Connick Jr. was still in the running.)

None of this is yet formal, but the reason Ellen was pushed out yesterday, and the reason Kara D is likely to get pushed out today, is very obvious: Fox wants to announce some BIG NEWS at the TCA, and with these two names to trot before reporters, Fox will easily dominate these two weeks. 

But that's almost besides the point: The judge panel needed to be rebooted, and the reboot has begun.

How good would this panel be? Well, on paper, of course, unbelievable. It's almost like the ghost of George Steinbrenner told "Idol" to spend big and spend deep. Get an A-Rod!  This is about winning! That's all that counts. And come on: If you can get Steven Tyler, you get Steven Tyler. I just always thought he was out of the realm of possibility. Apparently, he's not. This would be truly exciting for dusty ol' "Idol."

But that's on paper. How will J-Lo and ST work together? Does HE take the Simon Cowell role, or does she? Or even Randy though that seems unlikely?

And if you are a top 24 contestant, how will it feel being judged by Tyler and  J-Lo?

(Of course, contestants were long ago judged by guest judges of some stature so in one sense, this is a go back to the future move.) What wll that famous "Idol" chemistry be like? Does J-Lo have to be "Paula?" Does Tyler have to pretend that he is the Voice off Authority, like Simon? We've long-known that Simon was a central reason for "Idol's" success, insofar as he leant that sort of hard-bitten analysis that sort of implied that it was the Truth. Would or could Tyler bring this to the table? 

Foremost, this is a return to the roots move. "Idol" is about music; it's not about famous talk show hosts like Ellen. And at the risk of contradicting myself in an earlier post, maybe "Idol" really does need major names on the panel. The show long ago left anonymity, long ago left behind the notion that an unknown could join the panel. "Idol" is simply too famous, and you can't make the presumption that you'd put in another record producer that no one has heard of outside the industry, or a songwriter like Kara who is similarly unknown. You probably have to get the big name; viewers expect it and  so do the contestants, I would imagine.

We await the press release.