I’ve learned that Jennifer Lopez had been negotiating for a guaranteed “go” motion picture and TV pilots at Fox to accompany an asked-for $15 million American Idol judging paycheck. But the powers-that-be who produce Idol — Fox, Fremantle, and 19 Entertainment — balked. It was her manager Benny Medina (whom she once fired) who first orchestrated the meeting with the Idol producers in June, and, by the end of July, J-Lo accepted the offer to be a new Idol judge. Since then, she, Medina and her producing partner Simon Fields have been trying to milk the gig for all they could get from the movie studio and broadcast network/television programmer to further her stalled career in the film/TV area. One bargaining chip they had, I can report, is that Simon Cowell already asked JLo to be a judge on the U.S. version of his The X Factor when it debuts on Fox in Fall 2011.
Among JLo’s demands, “she was angling for an overall deal at Fox, including a put picture, to keep the movie career going. But Fox said no,” one insider tells me. “In the old days, these were called a ‘vanity deal’ for good reason. They simply don’t exist today. Will Smith doesn’t have put pictures.” Another informant says she also was angling for TV development projects to replace the ones that had gone by the wayside when her career grew cold. Also, Team JLo was pissed that the Idol producers never discussed ahead of time their decision to offer a judging job to Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler. Though Team JLo kept threatening she’d bail if she didn’t get what she wanted, Fox called her bluff several times. That’s when real or imagined “Plan B” feelers put out to other talent would wind up in the media. It was left to returning Idol executive producer Nigel Lythgoe to deny these unconfirmed reports circulating that J-Lo was losing the job because of her diva demands.
I’m told that JLo and Fields did receive the overall Fox deal but with no film/TV commitments. Medina and JLo tried to hold out for the $15M Idol paycheck but couldn’t get it and wound up settling for $12M. “I think it was just positioning,” a source tells me. “In the end, she didn’t turn up her nose up at $12 million. I would have been very surprised if she had walked away. She needs the money. She lives very very well. It comes at a cost.” Amazing, since she was listed as the richest person of Latin American descent in Hollywood according to Forbes magazine, and parlayed the heyday of her media fame from 1999-2002 into fashion and perfume celebrity licensing ventures.
I’ve also learned that one reason the announcement of American Idol’s new judges has been delayed is that JLo asked that it coincide with Island Def Jam’s dropping her first single in mid-September. She signed with that label on March 19th and is reportedly working on new material for Love? with RedZone Entertainment (Kuk Harrell, The-Dream and Tricky Stewart). It’s no secret that JLo’s singing and acting career has been on the skids after her 2010 movie The Back-Up Plan failed at the box office in the spring and she was dropped by her record company Sony Music Epic Records this past winter. The actress had many hits with Sony Music Epic Records, so it was a shock within the recording industry when her longtime label dumped her. The contract period had ended, and Lopez had fulfilled it with her last two singles. But in February Sony then cancelled her 7th studio album titled “Love?”, which was supposed to come out in April and has yet to be released and featured production from Danja, Jim Jonsin, Darkchild, Chris n Teeb from Dropzone, and The Neptunes among others.