DeGeneres says she's too nice for 'Idol;' J. Lo to step in?

NEW YORK - Ellen DeGeneres is dancing off "American Idol" after one season, and Jennifer Lopez is poised to step in.

A person familiar with negotiations for Lopez said she's close to signing a deal to join Fox TV's hit singing contest as a judge. The person, who was not authorized to comment publicly, spoke last night on condition of anonymity.

DeGeneres announced earlier yesterday she was leaving the show after one season, following fellow judge Simon Cowell out the door. Fox has yet to announce a replacement for Cowell.

"A couple months ago, I let Fox and the 'American Idol' producers know that this didn't feel like the right fit for me," DeGeneres said in a statement. The comedian/talk-show host said she realized that while she "loved discovering, supporting and nurturing young talent, it was hard for me to judge people and sometimes hurt their feelings."

Actor-singer-dancer Lopez, whose films include "Selena" and "The Back-Up Plan," has appeared as a mentor on "American Idol."

Fox declined comment. Phone and e-mail messages for Lopez's representatives were not immediately returned.

Judge Kara DioGuardi, who replaced Paula Abdul two years ago, is not under contract for next year, and Fox has not announced whether she'll return.