There wasn't much chatter about American Idol on today's conference call with Fox executives to discuss the network's newly announced 2011-2012 primetime schedule. After all the show is the closest network television comes to a sure thing, and with The X Factor premiering this fall there were bigger fish to fry. But when one reported asked Fox Networks Group Entertainment Chairman Peter Rice to definitively say which Idol judges would be returning for next year, he admitted that everyone was set to return-- except one.

Everyone had multiple year contracts. Jennifer [Lopez] had a single year contract. She had a really fun time doing the show, we loved having her on the show, we're talking to her now about her schedule for next year. Our hope and expectation is that she'll return.

It's not news to hear that Lopez only signed for a single season of Idol, though the fact that fellow new judge Steven Tyler allowed himself to be locked in for multiple years does surprise me, at least. But you'd think that by the time the network went to announce all their new shows to reporters and advertisers they would have Lopez either locked in for another year or confirmed to be leaving. The uncertainty is what seems surprising here, especially given the amount of hype surrounding Lopez when she joined the show, and the flak Idol took for another single-season judge, Ellen DeGeneres, who simply didn't work out.

If I had to guess I'd say Lopez will probably return-- the show is still a hit, she's getting great exposure for it, and the mix of judges seems to be working. But nothing is guaranteed at this point. Would you guys rather see Lopez replaced, or are you rooting for the network to keep her on board? Let us know in the comments.

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