'American Idol' at crossroads after Tyler's exit
FILE - In this Jan. 8, 2012 photo, "American Idol" judge Jennifer Lopez, center, reacts as fellow judge Steven Tyler, left, of Aerosmith makes a joke about wearing Lopez's pants as Randy Jackson and Ryan Seacrest are seen at right during the "American Idol" panel at the Fox Broadcasting Company Television Critics Association Winter Press Tour in Pasadena, Calif. "American Idol" is on the brink of a crisis, Thursday, July 12, 2012, as judge Steven Tyler is leaving, and fellow judge Jennifer Lopez is dithering about staying put. (AP Photo/Danny Moloshok, File)
LOS ANGELES (AP) — "American Idol" is on the brink of an adolescent identity crisis.
Judge Steven Tyler is leaving and taking his naughty rock star vibe with him, fellow judge Jennifer Lopez is dithering about staying put, and ratings for the Fox show have declined as TV's talent show field gets more competitive.
When "American Idol" returns for its 12th season next January, it will have to be a reengineered version of the once-powerhouse series that turned hopefuls such as Jennifer Hudson into stars and gave network rivals fits.
One big step would be a clean sweep of the judging panel. Aerosmith frontman Tyler got the ball rolling with his announcement Thursday that he was putting rock 'n' roll ahead of the show that he said had been "over-the-top fun."
"I strayed from my first love, Aerosmith, and I'm back — but instead of begging on my hands and knees, I got two fists in the air and I'm kicking the door open with my band," Tyler said in a statement. Aerosmith is on a nationwide tour with Tyler and has an album due out in the fall.
Tyler's departure leaves original judge Randy Jackson and Jennifer Lopez, but their futures are cloudy.
In a phone interview with The Associated Press as the news about Tyler broke, Lopez said she was saddened to hear that he was leaving and was weighing her own decision.
"I can't even imagine anyone else there right now because I've just spent two years sitting next to him," she said. "I love Steven, and we became close during that time. We were a great support for each other, on an adventure that neither one of us knew what it was going to be. So it's hard to hear that he won't be doing it."
FILE - This March 28, 2012 file photo shows Steven Tyler speaking at the Aerosmith news conference announcing the 2012 Global Warming Tour in Los Angeles. Tyler announced Thursday, July 12, 2012 that he will not be returning as a judge on the singing competition series "American Idol." Tyler served as a judge with singer/actress Jennifer Lopez and Randy Jackson on the 10th and 11th season of the series. (AP Photo/Katy Winn, file)
Lopez, who proved a warm charmer on "Idol," said Tyler's departure will play a role in her decision to stay or go. She has already indicated that there is a good likelihood that she will not be back.