DeGeneres said she told Fox and the Idol producers months ago that she wasn't comfortable with returning for a second stint.
"I told them I wouldn't leave them in a bind and that I would hold off on doing anything until they were able to figure out where they wanted to take the panel next," DeGeneres said. "It was a difficult decision to make, but my work schedule became more than I bargained for."
Per Deadline, DeGeneres and her reps went to see Fox Broadcasting's Entertainment Chairman Peter Rice and Alternative TV President Mike Darnell and asked to be let out of the year left on her contract. "She's not comfortable. She's not happy. It's not been fun," Fox was told. But Rice and Darnell responded that, with Cowell leaving, "We can't let you out now because it would be bad for our franchise. Give us a chance to figure out who we could get." In the end, all the show's producers worked it out. "Peter Rice was awesome," an insider told Deadline. "Ellen is thrilled and relieved."
Ideally, the thinking goes that Fox would like to be able to announce the new judge this Monday, the day of Fox's TV Critics Assn. presentation.
Bringing on Lopez would give the show a credible music industry figure to replace DeGeneres, who was criticized for her lack of technical music-critiquing skills, notes The Hollywood Reporter.
Despite the departures of Cowell, DeGeneres and potentially DioGuardi, a complete overhaul might be complicated by the fact that Randy Jackson still has a year to go on his contract.
On replacing Cowell, Deadline says "everyone" associated with the show wants Elton John, but he is said to be asking for too much money and has too many touring commitments. Other unconfirmed reports say Idol has offered Cowell's judge seat to Aerosmith frontman Steven Tyler.