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Steven Tyler the real diva on ‘American Idol’, insiders say

“American Idol” judge Steven Tyler has decided leave hit show.

“American Idol” judge Steven Tyler has decided to leave the hit show.

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Updated: July 31, 2011 12:17AM

Steven Tyler and Jennifer Lopez are rating raves from many watching “American Idol” this season, but a couple of backstage “Idol” insiders have very different takes on J. Lo and the Aerosmith icon.

“I thought Jennifer would be the big diva,” said my best “Idol’’ spy Tuesday, “but she’s a total doll. Actually Steven’s the diva. He can often be a real s---!”

Both that source and another longtime “Idol” staffer told me Tyler showcases a delightful, quirky and very entertaining persona when he knows he’s being filmed, but turns it off just as quickly.

“He’s funny and charming and warm on camera, but as soon as the cameras are off, he turns off as well,” said my second source.

While a key member of Tyler’s team laughs all this off and claims the music superstar judge is “one and the same — both on and off camera,” my original source said Tyler is very demanding, and tough on “Idol’’ staffers.

“He was not happy that a towel wasn’t handed him quick enough [while he was sweating on stage] and during a commercial break just grabbed the skirt of a staff member who walked by, pulled her toward him and just wiped his face on her skirt!”

ENGAGING MATTERS: Now that Jay Cutler has asked TV star Kris­tin Cavallari to marry him — the next question is … where will the happy couple tie the knot?And when?

While Cavallari does have roots in the Chicago area, I’m hearing the actress and the Bears QB more likely will wed in a more remote spot.

They love Cabo San Lucas in Mexico (where Cutler proposed and presented his fiancee with a 5.2-carat sparkler), but a close Cavallari chum whispers a more remote Tahiti or a private Caribbean isle may be a more likely site for their nuptials, probably late this summer.

† Kim Kardashian is keeping mum, but she and NBA star Kris Humphries were seen ring shopping at the Tiffany store in Minneapolis.

BOTTOMS UP! Along with her other “abilities,” Kate Middleton apparently is very good at holding her liquor. The soon-to-be-new-royal reportedly can outdrink many men — including her fiance, Prince William, and his party-loving younger brother Prince Harry.

BOOK BEAT: A political pal of former Alaska governor and GOP veep candidate Sarah Palin told me Tuesday, “She merely rolled her eyes and grimaced — big time” when Palin heard the news about daughter Bristol’s baby daddy Levi Johnston’s new book deal with Touchstone Publishing.

Johnston is planning on releasing Deer in the Headlights: My Life in Sarah Palin’s Crosshairs around Labor Day.

† Congrats to former Sun-Timesman-turned-mystery thriller writer Shane Gericke, named a finalist for the prestigious Thriller Award for best paperback novel of 2010 for his book Torn Apart.

The Thrillers are the top awards in the suspense thriller business, and Gericke is among five authors vying for the big award, to be announced July 9 in New York.

FASHION FLASH: The fashion retailer Talbots conducted a nationwide search for five “real woman” mother-daughter modeling teams — and one tapped was Ann and Maria Ponce, the wife and daughter of “Chicago Tonight” host Phil Ponce. Ann, a noted artist, and her photographer daughter are in the new Talbots catalog. Always-ethical journalist Phil wants it known: They did not get to keep the clothes!

SEEN ON THE SCENE: Hockey legend Tony Esposito and (separately) the entire Vancouver Canucks team were spied dining at Carmine’s on Rush. … Ty Tender of Austria, top European Elvis impersonator, checked out such iconic local sites as the former Chess Records studio and Maxwell Street — led by tour guide and folklorist Richard T. Crowe. … Ex-Braves pitcher John Smoltz was seen dining at Bistro 110. … Ernie Banks was so busy signing autographs the other night at Harry Caray’s on Kinzie — he barely had time to watch the Bulls game! … The Blackhawks’ Michael Frolik slipped into Hub 51. ... Yes, that was “Man vs. Food’s” Adam Richman hopping around the Underground on Easter night. … Duran Duran’s Simon Le Bon chowed down with his buddy Billy Dec at his Sunda eatery. … Ricky Martin caused a few squeals from fans as he walked through the lobby of the Dana Hotel with his mom and his twin sons — en route to breakfast at Aja.

Bill Zwecker reports on “The X Factor” Chicago area auditions on “Good Day Chicago” this morning on WFLD-Channel 32.

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