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Image: Jennifer Lopez
Kevin Winter/American Idol 2011  /  Getty Images Contributor
Is Jennifer Lopez getting ready to kiss "American Idol" goodbye for season 11? The new judge has said that she's "on the fance" about returning next season.
Hollywood Reporter
updated 6/15/2011 1:36:10 PM ET 2011-06-15T17:36:10

How about we just call it like it is: Jennifer Lopez’s recent admission to the BBC that she’s “on the fence” about returning to "American Idol" next season is likely nothing more than a ploy for a pay hike. Lopez’s current salary: a reported $12 million. How high could her demand ultimately go? Another $23 million, if the Simon Cowell budget is your barometer.

Story: Jennifer Lopez 'on the fence' about 'Idol' return

That’s right, "Idol’s" top-earning judge for eight years running commanded $35 million per season at the end of his tenure, or about $642,201 per hour, using season 9’s total airtime. And while Lopez is a proven entity with some box office cachet and a current hit on the Billboard charts (thanks, in large part, to its premiere and multiple plugs on "Idol"), is her contribution to the show really worth that much?

Let’s consider: The Bronx beauty has the crabby Brit beat in the looks department, as viewers tuned in just to see what Lopez was wearing or how her hair was done, but when it came to commenting on the performances, it took all season for her to work up the courage to be anything less than fawning. Were it not for Casey Abrams’s surprise peck and the occasional cooing “baby” that she would bestow on a contestant, and, dare we say, J Lo sometimes bordered on dull.

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Photos from THR: 'American Idol's' season 10 finale

With that in mind, who’s really getting more out of this relationship? True, Fox was able to avert a season 10 ratings disaster by enlisting Lopez for a year on the panel (judge Steven Tyler is signed on through season 11), and the numbers stayed flat, but after nine months of work plus that hefty paycheck, J Lo also walked away with a resurrected career and a radio smash (“On the Floor”) on her hands — her first in nearly a decade.

One has to wonder: Was Lopez’s "Idol" commitment contingent on her having new product to promote? If that was the case, who could blame her? The exposure alone is priceless, but having an agenda is not lost on some viewers and even certain ex-contestants.

Photos from THR: 'Idol's' worst auditions of all time

Just before last month’s "Idol" finale, season 5 second runner-up Elliott Yamin offered his view of the new judges: “I feel like Jennifer and Steven might not be back because their goal was to really promote things they have coming out,” he said. “Paula [Abdul] did that too, with the song and video she put out, but it seems like they’re doing it more than ever this season.” (Worth noting: Tyler, who released a book and a solo single this year, is headed back into the studio with his band Aerosmith to work on a new album and don’t be surprised if its release date is slated for Spring 2012.)

For its part in promoting Lopez, Fox is left in a precarious predicament similar to what the network faced last summer when the question of the judges was very much still up in the air — a stressful exercise that doesn’t call for a repeat. But if Lopez holds out too much longer, that’s exactly what all could be in for.

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Video from THR: Where are these famous 'Idol' alums now?

When asked about her plans, Lopez told the BBC: “I loved ["Idol"] but I have a lot other things happening, and it's going to come down to me making a choice of what I want to do for the next year … we're not really at the breaking point of ‘You have to make a decision right now!’”

This then leads us to another unanswered question posed by a salty Brit: “How soon is now?”

Copyright 2012 The Hollywood Reporter

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Video: J-Lo unsure if she'll stay on 'Idol'

Photos: Jennifer Lopez's rise to fame

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  1. Mellow yellow

    Jennifer Lopez arrives at the 73rd annual Golden Globe Awards on Sunday, Jan. 10, 2016, at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, California. (Jordan Strauss / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. Shades of blue

    Busy Jennifer Lopez spends her time off from judging the final season of "American Idol" starring in the police drama "Shades of Blue." (NBC) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. Hostess with the mostess

    Jennifer Lopez poses in the press room during the 2015 American Music Awards at Microsoft Theater on November 22, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. JLO hosted the event. (Jason Merritt / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. Kicking things off

    (L-R) Singers Jennifer Lopez, Claudia Leitte and Pitbull perform during the Opening Ceremony of the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil at Arena de Sao Paulo on June 12, 2014 in Sao Paulo, Brazil. (Buda Mendes / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. Actress Jennifer Lopez arrives at the premiere of Lionsgate's "What To Expect When You're Expecting" held at Grauman's Chinese Theatre on May 14, 2012 in Hollywood, California. (Kevin Winter / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. Actresses Jennifer Lopez (L) and Cameron Diaz present at the 84th Academy Awards in Hollywood, California, February 26, 2012. (Gary Hershorn / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. Jennifer Lopez and Casper Smart arrive at their hotel on January 31, 2012 in New York City. (Arnaldo Magnani / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. Back together again?

    Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony attend the 2012 Winter Television Critics Association Press Tour to promote their show,' ¡Q'Viva! The Chosen' on Jan. 14, 2012, in Pasadena, Calif. The show takes the former couple across Latin America in search of the best dancers, singers, musicians and street performers. (Frederick M. Brown / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  9. 'Q'Viva'

    Lopez smiles toward photographers while filming the reality show 'Q'Viva! The Chosen' 'in Lima, Peru, on Dec. 3, 2011. (Karel Navarro / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  10. The glamorous judge

    Lopez joined "American Idol" in its 10th season, sitting alongside fellow new judge Steven Tyler, left, and returning panelist Randy Jackson. J.Lo quickly established herself as a nice judge, but unlike some who came before her, she gives the contestants constructive criticism they can use. She returned for season 11. () Back to slideshow navigation
  11. Leader of the pack

    Lopez performs at the 39th Annual American Music Awards in Los Angeles on Nov. 20, 2011. (Matt Sayles / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  12. Always a favorite

    Lopez poses backstage with her award for latin music favorite artist at the 39th Annual American Music Awards in Los Angeles on Nov. 20, 2011. (Chris Pizzello / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  13. End of the road

    Lopez and her husband Marc Anthony attend the Hollywood Walk of Fame ceremony for British entertainment entrepreneur Simon Fuller in Hollywood, Calif., on May 23, 2011.

    The couple announced on July 15, 2011, that they were divorcing after seven years of marriage. "This was a very difficult decision," the couple said in a statement. "It is a painful time for all involved and we appreciate the respect of our privacy at this time." (Mike Nelson / EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  14. Here's the 'Plan'

    Lopez and Anthony arrive at a screening of her movie "The Back-up Plan" in Miami on April 14, 2010. (Gustavo Caballero / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  15. Rocky romance

    Lopez costars with Alex O'Loughlin in "The Backup Plan," a 2010 comedy about a woman who becomes romantically involved after becoming pregnant by artificial insemination. (CBS Films) Back to slideshow navigation
  16. In white on Oscar night

    Lopez is a vision in white as she arrives for the 82nd Academy Awards on March 7, 2010. (Matt Sayles / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  17. Grammy glamour

    Lopez wore a metallic ensemble as she introduced the band Green Day at the 52nd annual Grammy Awards in Los Angeles on Jan. 31, 2010. (Mike Blake / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  18. Dazzling

    Lopez performs during Times Square's New Year’s Eve celebration in New York on Dec. 31, 2009. J. Lo's revealing diamond-encrusted catsuit was the talk of the town. (Craig Ruttle / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  19. New hit

    Lopez performs the song 'Louboutins' onstage at the 2009 American Music Awards at Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on Nov. 22, 2009 in Los Angeles, California. After climbing a stairway of dancers and jumping off, Lopez tripped but made a quick recovery. (Kevin Winter/ama2009 / Getty Images Contributor) Back to slideshow navigation
  20. "This is it" premiere

    Lopez arrives for the world premiere of the Michael Jackson’s “This is it” at the Nokia Theatre at LA Live on October 27, 2009 in Los Angeles. (Robyn Beck / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  21. Capitol hill visit

    House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Lopez's husband Marc Anthony, Rep. Nydia Valazquez and Lopez face reporters before a meeting to discuss education in the Latino community and college affordability legislation on Capitol Hill in Washington on Sept. 16, 2009. (Yuri Gripas / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  22. Domo arigato

    Lopez poses for photographers at an event by Japanese fashion company Samantha Thavasa in the young fashion district of Shibuya in Tokyo on March 29, 2009. (Toru Yamanaka / AFP/Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  23. Family affair

    Anthony and Lopez hold their twins, Emme and Max, on stage before Anthony performs at a Valentine's Day show at New York's Madison Square Garden on Feb. 14, 2009. (Kevin Mazur / WireImage) Back to slideshow navigation
  24. Golden girl

    Lopez arrives at the 66th Annual Golden Globe Awards held at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on Jan. 11, 2009 in Beverly Hills, California. (Jason Merritt / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  25. Fashion forward

    Lopez and Anthony arrive at the Fashion Group's 25th Annual Night of Stars in New York.on Oct. 23, 2008. (Peter Kramer / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  26. Oooo-oooo, that smell

    Lopez attends the launch of her fragrance Deseo For Men at Macy's at Herald Square on Sept. 29, 2008, in New York. (Andrew H. Walker / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  27. Triple threat

    Lopez begins the the bicycling portion of the 2008 Nautica Malibu Triathlon in Malibu, Calif., on Sunday, Sept. 14, 2008. She raised $127,000 for the Children's Hospital of L.A. thanks to her athletic achievement -- just seven months after giving birth. (Dan Steinberg / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  28. Bundles of joy

    Lopez and Anthony arrive with their children Max and Emme in Zaventem, Belgium, on June 18, 2008, for a concert Anthony was giving in Antwerp. The twins were born on Feb. 22. (Virginie Lefour / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  29. Bump in the relationship

    Anthony and Lopez arrive for the taping of "Movies Rock" at the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood, Calif., on Dec. 2, 2007. The two-hour special celebrated music's most iconic moments in film. And the celebrity couple was celebrating the fact that they were soon to be parents of twins. (Jason Redmond / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  30. World superstar

    Lopez performs at Luz stadium in Lisbon in July 2007 to present the New 7 Wonders of the World. (Francisco Leong / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  31. Actress & activist

    Lopez shows her gratitude for receiving the Artists for Amnesty award during the 57th Berlinale International Film Festival. It was for her work producing and starring in the future film "Bordertown." (Hannibal Hanschke / Corbis) Back to slideshow navigation
  32. A perfect match

    After several failed relationships and marriages, Jennifer finally married her Mr. Right -- Marc Anthony. The two tied the knot in a quiet home ceremony on June 5, 2004. (Danny Moloshok / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  33. Cover girl

    There's no denying that Lopez is a Latin beauty. She's been featured in People's "50 Most Beautiful" issue in 2006 and the "100 Most Influential Hispanics" issue in February 2007. Despite what people might think of her acting, Lopez is one of the highest-paid actresses in Hollywood and the highest-paid Latin actress in Hollywood history. (People en Espanol) Back to slideshow navigation
  34. Fan appreciation

    In March 2007, Lopez says thank-you to her fans with a New York City signing of her new Spanish language CD, "Como Ama Una Mujer." (Evan Agostini / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  35. Jane vs. Jennifer

    The two divas -- played by Jane Fonda and Jennifer Lopez -- battle it out in Robert Luketic's 2005 romantic comedy "Monster-in-Law." (New Line Cinema) Back to slideshow navigation
  36. City girl

    The Bronx, N.Y., native shows she still has her New York edge and fashion in this fierce fur ensemble. (Kevin Mazur / WireImage) Back to slideshow navigation
  37. The heat is on

    Lopez heats up the screen with Richard Gere in the 2004 film "Shall We Dance?" (Miramax Films) Back to slideshow navigation
  38. Sweet smell of success

    Lopez ventures into the perfume industry with her debut scent Glow by J.Lo which broke numerous sales records. She's vaulted from backup dancer to global entrepreneur. (Glow by JLO) Back to slideshow navigation
  39. The rise of "Bennifer"

    Who could forget the highly publicized relationship between Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez? Dubbed "Bennifer" by the media, the two caused quite a stir when Affleck gave her a six-carat pink diamond ring worth a reported $1.2 million. The marriage, however, never happened. (Chris Pizzello / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  40. Casting against type

    Lopez's film career continued to soar with the romantic comedy "Maid in Manhattan." The film was released in 2002 and co-stars British cutie Ralph Fiennes. Lopez plays Marisa Ventura, a single mother who works as a maid at a five-star New York City hotel. (Columbia Pictures) Back to slideshow navigation
  41. Husband No. 2

    Lopez and fiance Cris Judd show their love at the 2001 MTV Video Music Awards. They met on the set of her music video, where he was a backup dancer, married on Sept. 29, 2001, and divorced in August 2002. (Gregory Pace / Corbis) Back to slideshow navigation
  42. Muy caliente!

    Lopez heats up the Plaza with a belly-baring performance on the TODAY show's concert series on July 13, 2001, in New York City. (Spencer Platt / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  43. She's got the look

    In 2001, the singer launched her clothing line, J.LO by Jennifer Lopez. (Jill Connelly / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  44. Critical acclaim

    Lopez went dark and edgy in the 2000 film, "The Cell," starring Vince Vaughn and Vincent D'Onofrio. (New Line Cinema) Back to slideshow navigation
  45. Becoming a superstar

    Lopez strikes a pose in the infamous Versace dress with her boyfriend, Sean "Puffy" Combs, at the 42nd Grammys. Their relationship lasted for two and a half years. (Mike Blake / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  46. J.Lo the singer

    Lopez made her singing debut with her first album "On the 6," released on June 1, 1999. It featured the popular songs "If You Had My Love" and "Waiting for Tonight." (Sony) Back to slideshow navigation
  47. Starter husband

    Lopez met her first husband, Ojani Noa, when he worked as a waiter in Miami. They married on February 22, 1997, and divorced in March 1998. Several years after the divorce, she hired Noa as the manager of her Pasadena restaurant, Madre's, but he was fired only months later. (Terry Lilly / Zuma Press via Corbis) Back to slideshow navigation
  48. Ms. Fashionista

    In February 2005, Lopez showed the fall line of J.LO by Jennifer Lopez during Olympus Fashion Week in New York City's Bryant Park. (Mark Mainz / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  49. A star is born

    Early in her acting career, Lopez played Texas-born Tejano singer Selena. (Warner Bros via Everett Collecti) Back to slideshow navigation
  50. I believe I can Fly

    Lopez is shown with her hand on Keenen Ivory Wayans' shoulder in a 1992 promo shot for "In Living Color." Lopez gained her first regular high-profile job as a "Fly Girl" dancer on the television comedy program. (Everett Collection) Back to slideshow navigation
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  1. Image: Jennifer Lopez
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    Above: Slideshow (50) Jennifer Lopez's rise to fame
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    Slideshow (24) ‘American Idol’ season 10 finale