Fox has made it official: Jennifer Lopez is returning and Harry Connick Jr. is debuting.
The network announced today that the "Jenny from the Block" crooner will come back to American Idol in 2014, following a season away from the series, while Connick - who has served twice as a mentor on the program - will join J. Lo and Keith Urban on the Season 13 judging panel.
Randy Jackson will also be sticking around, taking over the role of in-house mentor from Jimmy Iovine, with the new judges getting right to work: they will sit in for auditions in Boston later today.
The once-dominant Fox program spent weeks looking for a third panelist, as contenders from Scooter Braun to Dr. Luke, Diddy to Kanye West, all reportedly turned down offers from producers. There has also been talk of an all-alumni table featuring Kelly Clarkson, Adam Lambert and Jennifer Hudson. But that possibility never materialized.
Said Kevin Reilly, Chairman of Entertainment, Fox Broadcasting Company, in a statement:
“American Idol has always been about discovering the next singing superstar, and next season our judging panel will deliver a most impressive combination of talent, wisdom and personality to do just that: Jennifer Lopez, the triple-threat global superstar who loves Idol and whom Idol fans love; Harry Connick, Jr., a bona-fide musical genius and fantastic Idol mentor whose honesty and expertise can help turn these hopefuls into stars; Keith Urban, a multi-Grammy-winning artist who was such a positive force on the show last season. We are also very excited to have our friend Randy Jackson now in a new role as mentor, and the captain of our team – the heart and soul of Idol – Ryan Seacrest returning as host.”
What do you think of Harry Connick Jr. as a new American Idol judge?