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“Well, nothing’s been confirmed yet. If I were to be asked, I’d love the job. I think that would be great. That’s `if,’ because nothing’s been asked yet,” he said, adding that he’d enjoy being a panelist who could “help other artists reach their dreams.”

Nigel Lythgoe, an “Idol” executive producer who recently joked about hiring Jerry Lewis and Charlie Sheen as judges, was circumspect about Lambert.

“The minute `American Idol’ is discussed and judges are discussed there’s gonna be a lot of names flying around, and this is an interesting one,” he said. “I happen to like Adam Lambert a great deal but I’m not sure where this has come from probably from Adam Lambert’s fan club. We’ll wait and see.”

Youth isn’t all, of course. Other factors at play involve the fan base that judges bring or develop, their skill on live TV and their chemistry with fellow panelists.

Casting a talent show judge, while less daunting than making a Supreme Court pick, can be tricky. The right person has enough celebrity cachet and success to be desirable, but not so much to be unattainable. It’s unlikely that Rihanna, at least for now, sees a judgeship as a career ambition.

Predicting who will flourish in a reality TV setting is another hurdle. Who would have guessed, for instance, that the hard-living Tyler would display such impish charm?

Conversely, popular daytime host Ellen DeGeneres was a short-lived “Idol” judge, appearing ill-at-ease and timid in her contestant critiques. Songwriter Kara DioGuardi had serious music credentials but wasn’t ready for prime-time.

Whether panelists will mesh, or for how long, also is hard to predict. The love-hate banter between Cowell and Abdul delighted viewers on “Idol” but had worn thin when they reunited on “X Factor.” On NBC’s “The Voice,” country star Blake Shelton and rocker Adam Levine have proved a fun and feisty duo.

“Idol” producers have so far been circumspect while fans toss around names like Carey, Dion and Blige. While millions of dollars are at stake for networks, celebrities weighing a career move to “Idol” know a hefty paycheck may be just the start of their windfall.

When Lopez signed a reported $12 million, two-year deal with “Idol,” she hadn’t triggered real excitement in the record world for years and her box-office value had taken a hit with flops including “The Back-Up Plan.”

But on “Idol,” the glamorous, warmly appealing Lopez restored her popularity and converted it into new opportunities, including a TV show about global Latin talent. Tyler’s image adjustment did the same for him.

“Who would have thought Tyler would be doing Burger King commercials and Lopez would be hosting `Saturday Night Live?’” analyst Adgate said. “They got back into the mindset of pop culture followers.”

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Associated Press Writer Alicia Rancilio in New York contributed to this report.

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