Harry Connick Jr. and Jennifer Lopez officially join 'American Idol' Season 13
Yes, Randy Jackson will be returning as a mentor
Follow HitFix: Follow @hitfix
Just in the nick of time, "American Idol" has officially assembled its judging panel for its upcoming 13th season.
Capping a judging search with more twists and turns than the most recent "Idol" season, FOX announced on Tuesday (September 3) that Jennifer Lopez has finally signed on to return to "American Idol," joining Keith Urban. While Lopez's "Idol" rebirth had been aggressively rumored for months (dating back, in fact, to during the 12th season), the third member of the judging panel was subject to near-endless speculation in recent weeks, with candidates including a slew of former "Idol" contestants, former CNN political hologram will.i.am and producer Dr. Luke.
Instead, the third judge will be Harry Connick Jr.
Though it initially appeared that FOX and "American Idol" were clearing house after a season that brought the show's lowest ratings since Season 1, it's actually a very familiar team.
Urban is the only judging survivor from last year's all-star crew, but Lopez is back for her third "Idol" season after one year away. Connick has never been an "Idol" judge, but his name has reliably been bandied about whenever there were openings and he has been a frequent "Idol" mentor or guest judge in the past, usually winning rave reviews.
"I have always been a huge fan of 'American Idol' and really enjoyed my time as a mentor on the show," states Harry Connick, Jr. "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."
Although Urban is the only returning judge from last season, he's not the only judge from last season returning.
As has been rumored for some time, Randy Jackson will be making the leap from judge to in-house mentor, replacing record industry heavyweight Jimmy Iovine.
"Surprise, surprise! I am so happy to be back as part of this amazing show that started it all," states Jackson. "Season 1-3 is the place to be. The original talent show is back with a vengeance and ready to discover the best talent in America."
The "Idol" selection process was far from smooth and the announcement comes at literally the last second, with the show finally facing the intermediate audition rounds that require judging, rather than just a team of producers.
Still, there are quotes aplenty and everybody sounds very excited.
"'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." blurbs FOX Entertainment Chairman Kevin Reilly.
Ryan Seacrest adds, "I couldn’t be prouder to be a part of the 'American Idol' XIII family. Our new producers, judging panel and mentor are all fired up for this season. I’ve already witnessed some amazingly talented contestants from around the country during our early auditions, cementing my belief that a new superstar is well within our sights."
"American Idol" will, as always, return to FOX in January.
What do you think of the Season 13 "American Idol" team? Will it make any difference in your viewership?