"I'm sad to hear about all what's going on with that show," Jackson told reporters on a call on Thursday. "But all of those people are dear friends of mine as you know. I have not spoken to Paula [Abdul]. I mean, we texted back and forth. "
Earlier this week, it was confirmed that judges Abdul and Nicole Scherzinger, along with host Steve Jones would not be returning for the second season of The X Factor. This leaves creator Simon Cowell looking for fresh blood to join him and remaining judge L.A. Reid. As always, Cowell's good friend Mariah Carey came up as a possible contender.
"She'd be amazing. I manage her, of course I'm going to say that," said Jackson. "I don't know if that's ever going to happen, but I think Simon's one of the smartest people I know. I'm sure he's got some very interesting ideas up his sleeve ... Simon's one of my dearest friends in the world."
There's more to assembling an effective judging panel than just finding one good judge, though. Abdul and Cowell were on the original Idol panel, but something just didn't click when they transferred together to The X Factor. Meanwhile, in Idol's 10th season, Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler moved in and proved themselves enough to stay on the current season.
"Idol started with me, Simon, Ryan and Paula and that's what really brought us to our prominence. Those people are in my life forever because we did something very unique," explained Jackson. "We had a chemistry that we lucked out with. I think when you do these shows, with any kind of judging panel, what you're really looking for is that chemistry. We lucked out with it on Idol. And we lucked out with it again with Steven and Jennifer. Ryan [Seacrest] and I sat down with them before we did anything with them and had dinner together and it just clicked minutes in because we all knew each other for a long time."
That elusive chemistry could be threatened, however, if Seacrest decides to leave the show. Although he denies any plans to leave Idol anytime soon, there have been reports that NBC is courting him to replace Matt Lauer on Today.
"I think and hope and wish and pray that Ryan is definitely going to be there because as I said, he and I, Simon and Paula started this thing, and I can't imagine doing the show without him," said Jackson. "I don't think that anyone else on the show could either. He's the best at what he does. It's hard to find these hosts that can really wrangle us and do all of the stuff that needs to be done.
"I think I will be there for a while, at least my contract is there for a while," he continued. "But listen, you never know what the future brings. Both Ryan and I work on ideas together, work on ideas separately. There's a lot of territory out there to explore, TV-wise, show-wise, movie-wise, everything. Who knows? Maybe I'll become the next Brad Pitt or something and just be an actor. That's always what I wanted to be: a leading man.
American Idol airs Wednesdays and Thursdays at 8/7c on Fox.
What do you think about Carey as a potential X Factor judge? Would you watch Idol without Seacrest?