ABC's First Choice to Judge the New "American Idol"?

TMZ says that KELLY CLARKSON is ABC's "first choice" to be a judge on "American Idol".  And she's so excited about it that she's already scrambling to clear her schedule.

That's right . . . clear her schedule.  Kelly was the show's first winner, and she's arguably the biggest star to come out of "Idol" . . . or at least it's between her and CARRIE UNDERWOOD.  So, she's got an actual career to work around.

ABC probably wouldn't have to worry about someone "clearing their schedule" if they went with any of the other 150-or-so finalists from the original show . . . or even a lot of the WINNERS.

Of course, they didn't shell out big bucks for "Idol" so that they could have the judges be Justin Guarini, Taylor Hicks, or Sanjaya Malakar.

Earlier this week, Clay Aiken said that he'd DEFINITELY be interested, but he admits that he's probably not high on the wish list, and is NOT expecting a call.

JENNIFER HUDSON isn't a possibility, because she just joined "The Voice" as a coach for Season 13, alongside Miley Cyrus, Blake Shelton, and Adam Levine.

Technically, Season 13 is expected to air in the fall, with "Idol" not airing until the spring.  But "Idol" shoots its auditions in the fall, and something tells me they won't want to work around Jennifer's schedule with a competitor.

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