In its latest season, Fox's hit show American Idol saw a 25 percent decline in viewership. Averaging 20 million viewers for season 11 -- still among TV's most-watched shows but no longer the clear No. 1 -- its May finale was the show's lowest-rated. And while many critics and insiders blame the drop in ratings on the shows inability to connect with a fresh new generation of viewers, Judges Steven Tyler and Jennifer Lopez have decided to not stick around for a potential reprise.
So now, as they have done many times before, Fox and production partners FremantleMedia and 19 Entertainment are currently searching for new talent at the judging table.
But as the well-publicized search is catching the attention of many singers and celebrities who think they can get the job done, rumors are swirling that insist Fox is taking serious precautions in grouping together a new cast.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, one of the first steps in grouping together a new cast for the program will be to cut production budgets and staff, including the exorbitant salaries for judges.
The rumor doesn't spell well for an Idol comeback considering they are facing major competition these days. With names like Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera and Nick Cannon receiving exorbitant salaries for their roles on competing shows, Idol is going to have to pony up some big bucks to score major judging talent if they're going to want to put up any sort of a fight.
Looking ahead, THR is reporting that show executives are seeking out judges who would cost them significantly less (around $5 million) than the previously mentioned names, while giving the ratings a noticeable boost.
Contenders that fall into this category include Nicki Minaj, Fergie, will.i.am and even alums like Underwood and Adam Lambert, who could add a unique perspective to the judge's panel.
Another big name that was thrown into the mix recently was former Two And A Half Men star, Charlie Sheen.
Executive Producer Nigel Lythgoe joked recently about the possibility of bringing Sheen on as a Judge, but apparently Charlie took a liking to the idea.
Charlie made a radio call in to Ryan Seacrest recently, where he explained how it started: It kind of came out of nowhere and I responded with a quote, just to sort of check the temperature of it or test the waters. Haven't heard anything back. I guess it got some people curious.
Sheen went on to chat with Ryan Seacrest, and then revealed that he has a serious interest in the show: It seems so out of the blue that it almost made perfect sense. I thought this could be a lot of fun. Seriously, tell him (Nigel Lythgoe) I'm genuinely interested. It's so different, it could be radical.
While Sheen doesn't have any real music industry experience, the hiring could be seen as personality match with Howard Stern, who made a big splash recently as the new America's Got Talent judge and is doing quite well.
With so many names on the table, there is only one question to ask -- Who do you think would be the best addition to the American Idol panel? Comment and share your thoughts below!
My name is Carey Vanderborg and I'm a journalist working in New York City. I love food, travel, craft beer, live music and writing about all of the above.