'American Idol' Watch: Justin Timberlake, Elton John to Replace Simon?

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Justin Timberlake and Elton John are the latest celebrity names rumored to replace Simon Cowell as judge on American Idol. But if there's bigger news than the possibility of the former *N Sync-er joining the reality competition series, it's the report that former Idol producer Nigel Lythgoe (So You Think You Can Dance's cranky Brit) will return to run the show again after a two-year break. Lythgoe has gone on record saying that he would recast the entire panel when Cowell left. So now it may not be just one seat that needs filling; it may be the whole judges' table.

Entertainment Weekly has a rundown of 11 contenders for a spot on the panel—including current judges Randy Jackson, Kara DioGuardi, and Ellen DeGeneres—breaking down the pros, cons, and likelihood of each candidate landing the job. Here's their thoughts on Timberlake:

Pros: Having successfully navigated the tricky voyage from Mouseketeer to boy-bander to solo phenomenon, he certainly has the necessary industry cred for the job, and his knowledge of music written after 1990 could drag the typically fusty Idol panel into the post-Celine era. Plus, as he's proven on SNL and the ESPYs, his quick wit doesn't abandon him in front of a live audience. Cons: Hard to think of any, although he'll need to show a willingness to crush the dreams of talentless kids harboring delusions of singing stardom. One other caveat: It's not hard to imagine his critiques getting drowned out by continual screaming from overheated teen Swaybots. (Insert shudder of horror here.) Likelihood: He's reportedly on Simon Fuller's wish list, but is he too big a star to slum it in reality TV? Possibleeeeee. But it's worth noting that JT hasn't released a full-length disc since 2006, and that in recent years, he's shown considerable interest in discovering, producing, and collaborating with a wide range of artists. Plus, Idol will give him summers off to shoot the occasional big-screen role. Maybe this gig is right up his alley?

Read the full story at Entertainment Weekly.

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Kevin Fallon is a reporter for the Daily Beast. He's a former entertainment editor at TheWeek.com and former writer and producer for The Atlantic's entertainment channel.

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