As usual, the Hollywood rumor mill took some of the wind out of Fox’s sails but the network made it official today anyway: Harry Connick Jr. — together with the returning Jennifer Lopez and Keith Urban — will serve as judges on the 13th season of American Idol.
Idol veteran Randy Jackson will also be back, but this time as an in-house mentor. Naturally, Ryan Seacrest will be back as host. “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,” said Fox Entertainment Chairman Kevin Reilly in a statement. “Jennifer Lopez, the triple-threat global superstar who loves Idol and whom Idol fans love; Harry Connick, Jr., a bonafide 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.”
Connick also put out this statement: “I have always been a huge fan of American Idol and really enjoyed my time as a mentor on the show. And I am honored that they’ve asked me to be a judge this season. As an entertainer, I am truly excited to bring my perspective to American Idol, and to help emerging performers find their way.”
“I think this season of Idol is gonna be a blast,” said Keith Urban. “New team, new energy, and a whole new field of artists to be discovered and given a chance!”
The judges will begin today in Boston. The panel will travel to Atlanta, Austin, Detroit, Omaha, Salt Lake City, and San Francisco.
Idol will return in January.