Justin Timberlake Rumored for ‘Idol’ Panel as $300 Million Lawsuit Looms

The loss of famously cantankerous judge Simon Cowell isn’t the only big change coming to American Idol.

According to the Hollywood Reporter, former Idol producer Nigel Lythgoe—who left the show two years ago and currently produces So You Think You Can Dance—is in talks to return to AI as an executive producer, and he’s reportedly looking to clean house. Rumors are swirling that the show is considering not just replacing Cowell, but most of the judging panel in an effort to shake things up amid flagging ratings, and Lythgoe has been a vocal advocate of this approach in the past.

So who might Lythgoe bring in if such a purge were to occur? The short list of potential replacements is said to include music legend Elton John and Justin Timberlake, who are both said to be favorite candidates of 19 Entertainment honcho Simon Fuller. Of course, Timberlake might require a bit of convincing, since he’s currently occupied with his various restaurant ventures, Wiliam Rast clothing line and budding movie career.

“Wicked Game” crooner Chris Isaak has also been recently mentioned as a possible addition to the Idol judge’s panel.

In other American Idol news, the show is being slapped with a $300 million lawsuit by former Idol hopeful Ian Benardo, who semi-infamously hijacked the microphone from comedian Dan Cook on the season finale show earlier this year.

Benardo claims that producers “exploited…my sexual orientation” by telling him to “gay it up” following his 2006 audition, then shunned him when that tactic backfired. Benardo alleges that, when he was invited back for the finale show, one of the show’s producers again told him be “outrageous” and “gay,” which inspired him to pull the microphone stunt. (The AI reject yanked the mic away from Cook as he was performing a satire song entitled “Simon Said,” then declared, “Who cares? It’s all about Ian Benardo tonight!”)

Unfortunately, according to the legal documents filed by Bernardo at the New York State Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Cook threatened him after the show, and one of the producers told him that Cook wanted to “shove this mic up your ass but you would like it.”

Claiming that he’s suffered loss of employment opportunities and emotional injuries due to the incident, Benardo is asking for $300 million for his troubles.

Do you think he deserves it? Check out a video of the stunt below and share your thoughts in the comments section.

» Follow Celebuzz on Twitter | Facebook

BUZZINGS: More Celeb Goodness

Katy Perry’s Steamy New Video — BuzzFeed

John and Emily: Cutest Couple Ever? — Socialite Life

Coco on the Beach … Yeah — Wonderwall