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(USA Today) -- Maybe this is why the American Idol judges haven't used their save this year: They're keeping it for themselves.

According to a report from The Hollywood Reporter, the show's producers approached Jennifer Lopez about replacing Mariah Carey at the judges' table midseason as a way of trying to stem the show's slipping ratings, but when Carey's team got wind of the plot, they threatened legal action.

A Fox spokeswoman calls the scenario "just another ridiculous Idol rumor," but those rumors usually are relegated to the offseason. If this kind of talk is surfacing during the season, when the focus is supposed to be on the contestants, it's a sign that the show could be in serious trouble. And it wouldn't be the first sign: Last week, the Thursday results show got beat by a Big Bang Theory rerun.

Whatever the case, the talk of rotating judges is starting earlier than ever: The Hollywood Reporter suggests the entire judges' panel - which also consists of Nicki Minaj, Keith Urban and Randy Jackson - could be replaced for season 13 and that the search already has begun.

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