Just when you thought the bulk of 'American Idol' panel drama was done, a major bombshell has been revealed about the judges: Producers tried wooing Jennifer Lopez back to replace Mariah Carey in the middle of this season. Yikes!

The Hollywood Reporter says that 'Idol' suits tried luring Lopez back to the table until their plan was foiled by Carey's lawyers. Once the multi-octave diva's team heard of their plot, they threatened to sue -- which would not only be financially costly and messy, but also embarrassing for everyone involved.

However, negotiations are still being worked out with J. Lo, who may appear on the finale in May -- and the search is already on for an entirely new panel, which means new judges Nicki Minaj and Keith Urban may be getting the respect stiletto and cowboy boots as well.

Naturally, 'Idol' is denying it: "This is just another ridiculous Idol judge rumor, likely started by talks of Jennifer performing on the finale," a Fox rep said. Nigel Lythgoe added, "I have not been included in any conversation regarding replacing Mariah with Jen this season." Carey's reps also shot down the story ... but it's unlikely The Hollywood Reporter would report on pure conjecture, so where there's smoke, there's probably at least a small fire.

Carey was said to be too passive with her commentary on the show, despite being one of the greatest singers of all time. Meanwhile, Minaj was too far on the opposite end of the continuum, per a source: "The core viewer is a midwestern, Southern, older woman who is threatened by Nicki’s aggressiveness."

While there are no longer plans to shake up the panel this season, there may be big changes for the next one, with 'Idol' sources saying they may bring in industry names as opposed to stars to judge.

Watch the Mariah Carey 'Almost Home' Video