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‘American Idol’ Producer: ‘Country Is America’

Brad Paisley
Ethan Miller, Getty Images

It seems more and more likely that a country superstar will join Mariah Carey on the revamped ‘American Idol’ panel of celebrity judges. According to the Hollywood Reporter, show producers could possibly have their eye on the country music genre — although it’s anyone’s guess as to who will ultimately be offered the coveted position.

“Country is America,” hints ‘American Idol’ producer Nigel Lythgoe as to the possible direction the show may be taking. The British television mogul did acknowledge the career longevity in country music as opposed to the quick shelf life of pop artists, but did not specifically name any strong contenders.

As we reported recently, Brad Paisley seems to be the clear frontrunner for the position, with the ‘This is Country Music’ singer reportedly heading to Los Angeles this week to speak with the producers. Paisley seems to be a good fit for the position, thanks to his humorous charm and strong country music fan base.

Could Kenny Chesney also be in the running? The country music superstar would be a tremendous asset to the show, but according to an exclusive interview with Taste of Country earlier this year, it seems the ‘Come Over’ singer has no desire to be a mentor on a reality competition show.

“Uh, no — not really,” Chesney said when asked if he’d consider it. “I don’t think I’d be too good at judging a talent contest or mentoring anyone.”

“I haven’t watched a lot of those shows in the first place,” admitted the busy singer. “It’s up to anybody to find their own path and realize their dream anyway they want to do it. I’m not condoning it at all, but I don’t see myself being a part of anything like that really.”

Toby Keith is actually out of the running, revealing that show producers approached the him. But he turned down the position due to scheduling conflicts.

Remaining superstars who could be potentially be in the running include Keith Urban and ‘American Idol’ alums Carrie Underwood and Kellie Pickler. The high-profile gig would be rather timely for Pickler, considering her recent parting with label home Sony Music Nashville.

Which country superstar do you feel is best qualified to be a judge on the upcoming 12th season of ‘American Idol’? Let us know what you think!

Next: See Our List of Top 10 'American Idol' Singers

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