American Idol is reportedly returning to TV in 2018, but could the original judging panel of Simon Cowell, Paula Abdul and Randy Jackson be back too?
There's been much speculation about American Idol returning to TV screens since it aired its final episode on Fox in 2016, and TMZ is now reporting that bringing the singing show back is almost a done deal and that it could be back as early as March 2018.
"ABC wants the show and is far along in the negotiations with Fremantle, which produces the show," a source told the site of American Idol's return on ABC and not Fox, which is where it originally aired since it first premiered in 2002 with Simon, Paula, and Randy as the original judges.
The outlet even claimed that ABC is so far along in negotiations that the network could announce American Idol's return as early as next week.
As for if the show will look more like the 2002 version with Simon, Paula, and Randy or the 2016 version which saw Jennifer Lopez, Harry Connick Jr. and Keith Urban as judges, that's still up in the air.
According to Radar Online, rather than asking Simon to return, sources are claiming that producers allegedly want to shake things up and ask Kanye West to join the judging panel.
"Kanye is at the very top of the wish list, not Simon Cowell," a source alleged, adding that Season 1 winner Kelly Clarkson is allegedly in the running to be a judge, though Freemantle and ABC have not commented.
Deadline also reported that it's looking unlikely Simon will be back if and when American Idol returns, just as it's unlikely Idol fans will see Jennifer Lopez back on the show.
The site noted that both Cowell and Lopez have close ties with ABC's rival NBC (Cowell is a producer of America's Got Talent while Lopez produces and stars on both World of Dance and Shades of Blue), which means it's unlikely either will be able to sign a deal with ABC.
As for Randy Jackson, he recently revealed that he's willing to return to American Idol after sitting on the judging panel up until Season 12.
Speaking to TMZ just last month, Randy said "of course" when asked if he'd return to the show, but did not comment on whether Simon or Paula would be back as neither has officially commented.
But despite the reports, American Idol fans are making it pretty clear on social media that they want to see the original judging trio return for them to tune in.
"I heard they're thinking of bringing American Idol back. That is only okay under 3 conditions: Simon Cowell, Paula Abdul, and Randy Jackson," American Idol fan @Kenzie_Green2 tweeted amid the speculation, while @lisssylooooo added of the show returning, "I would only watch the new American Idol if Paula, Simon, and Randy were still on it."
Simon, Paula, and Randy are yet to officially comment as reports American Idol will be back get serious, though it's thought that Ryan Seacrest – who hosted the show for the entirety of its 15-season run – could be back to host.
"[Ryan's] priority is Live with Kelly and Ryan, he has big commitments to iHeartRadio daily and the syndicated radio show," said the source of Seacrest's possible American Idol return. "That said, Ryan has a lot of affection for Idol given the significance to his career, and it taps into the things he loves."
Noting that Seacrest hasn't been formally asked to host an American Idol reboot as fans plead for Simon, Paula and Randy to return, the site's source added that "he may well be open to it."
Are you hoping to see Simon Cowell, Randy Jackson, and Paula Abdul return to American Idol?
[Featured Image by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images]