Aretha For 'Idol' Nets J.Lo's Approval

Aretha For 'Idol' Nets J.Lo's Approval It may be encased within sculpted abs, but departing "American Idol" judge Jennifer Lopez has quite the "gut" worth trusting.

She told Access Hollywood recently that's exactly what assured her that beating a hasty retreat after two seasons from Fox's prime-time singing competition headed into its twelfth season was a move for the best. There's more to her better nature than sitting back and assessing others' gifts (or lack thereof, in enough instances.)

That's not to say she came about her exit lightly.

"I'm a performer, I'm an actress, I'm an entrepreneur, those are the things that I do and to sit and judge for two years was an amazing experience for me, but that's not what I do," J.Lo said prior to a weekend stop at Newark, N.J.'s Prudential Center on her tour with Enrique Iglesias. "So, it was time to move on.

"As painful as it was, because I really fell in love with everybody on the show, I really did . . . everybody behind the scenes to the guys, Steven [Tyler] and Randy [Jackson] and Ryan [Seacrest] . . . everybody was so great to me, but it's time to move on. Sometimes, you know, you have to do it."

On her way out the door, she's graciously given an enthusiastic candidate to assume her seat her seal of approval: Rock and Roll Hall of Famer and reigning Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin, who's publicly told Fox brass and "Idol" producers she wants the job. Lopez and fellow judge Tyler officially announced their departures from the show within days of each other, with Lopez claiming it was Tyler's decision to leave that cemented her own choice. Furthermore, original "Idol" judge Jackson has yet to sign a deal himself locking him into the next cycle.

"[Aretha's] amazing . . . it's such a delicate thing to find chemistry for that panel," Lopez said. "That was another thing that made me think about it. It's like once Steven kind of walked away as well, I was just like, 'Ugh, it's just all gonna be different.' They're gonna have their work cut out for them. I think just to find that balance again and that magic that happens when the people sit there."

Reportedly, producers are near a single big puzzle piece falling into place: rumors arose late last week that Grammy-winner Mariah Carey has nearly finalized a deal reportedly worth $17 million for next season. Other names bandied about have ranged from the publicly interested Charlie Sheen, to performers including Miley Cyrus, Nicki Minaj, Fergie and Will.I.Am.

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