LOS ANGELES (thefutoncritic.com) -- Another day, another cone of silence.
FOX's executive session at the TCA Summer Press Tour today saw Kevin Reilly and Peter Rice tight-lipped about "American Idol's" current foibles. "The only thing I can tell you with absolute certainty right now is that no one has signed a deal yet - on either side of the camera - to join 'American Idol' next year who was not in last year," Rice said. "There has been tremendous speculation... I can tell you that much of the information that has been written is accurate and some of the information that has been written is wildly inaccurate. I'm not going to get into either confirming or denying which ones they are... I wish, I truly wish we were going to walk out a panel of judges for next year."
Said statement, despite the ensuing prodding by reporters, was all the pair would say about the franchise, save for the departure of Ellen DeGeneres. "In early June, I met with Ellen and we talked about the season and her feelings about the season, and really the idea that she wasn't comfortable." Rice said. "She didn't feel like it was a good fit for her. I tried to persuade her that it would be different in the future but ultimately we came to an agreement that we would begin to look for a new judge, we were doing that anyway because Simon [Cowell] was leaving.
And as that played out over the course of the summer that we would come to an agreement to either say to her, we can't replace you or to say that we feel that we can move on without you. So that's sort of where we got to last week. It was precipitated in great part by this morning. We felt confident that we could come up with a panel that didn't include Ellen as a judge. And at the same time we knew we were coming here on Monday so it would be very disingenuous to sit here and to talk about Ellen being on 'Idol' next year when we knew that wasn't going to be the case."
In short, neither Rice nor Reilly would confirm the purported involvement - or lack thereof - of Nigel Lythgoe, Kara DioGuardi, Steven Tyler, Randy Jackson or Jennifer Lopez next season or even the number of judges.
Outside the "Idol" questions, the pair addressed a few other developments:
-- Reilly on holding "Terra Nova's" official launch until the fall of next year: "It was mainly due to the scope of what this show is going to take. We got into it knowing it was going to be ambitious, knowing that we had enormous, ground-breaking digital effects we were bringing to it... but frankly we, even locking in the location has been a unique set of challenges. A lot of the world will be created digitally but we're trying to find a prehistoric world. We've explored everywhere from Louisiana to Hawaii to Australia to Orlando - each has had pluses, pluses and minuses. We're getting very close to locking in a location."
-- "We're taking a bead on it right now," Reilly says about their late-night offerings. "We've maintained our Saturday night, late-night time period [with 'Lonestar,' Running Wilde' encores]. This season we really want to stay focused on primetime... when we find the right piece of talent, late-night is never off the table."
-- Reilly, on pushing the "Glee" reality series out of this summer: "By the time we finished a season that had slid back into the summer as you know, and there was a live tour that was mounted - it was a big success but it took up more time - our producers and cast had only a manner of weeks off. To kind of add further component to that, producing the show... it seemed like it was going to be logistically very, very difficult and probably not worth it."
-- And finally, as far as Steve McPherson's departure from ABC, Reilly says that he's "a very close friend of mine. I've known him for almost 30 years, we've been friends. All I can speak to is the depth of his character... it will continue to serve him well as he goes forward. And honestly it's been upsetting to me. Right now my focus is really just being a friend to him, a friend to his family. And frankly, I don't know what his professional plans are, but if they entail any producing, the door will be open to him at FOX."