Keith Urban returns to 'American Idol,' FOX hedges on Jennifer Lopez
Country singer is the lone Season 12 judging survivor
"American Idol" won't be replacing all of its judges after all.
FOX Entertainment Chairman Kevin Reilly confirmed on Thursday (August 1) morning that Keith Urban will be returning to "American Idol" for the show's 13th season, the lone survivor of a heavily hyped superstar panel that included the departed Nicki Minaj and Mariah Carey. [Original "Idol" judge Randy Jackson is also exiting.
"He’s a really funny guy. I don’t think he got a chance to let his personality shine through," Reilly told reporters of Urban, who was frequently overshadowed by his co-hosts last season.
Reilly suggested that "Idol" faltered last season in letting the judges upstage the contestants and vowed that a similar mistake wouldn't be made this year. He promised judges "that are good at the job, that people like and that refocus the attention on the contestants."
That doesn't mean, of course, that the show is shying away from celebrity judges. Without individually confirming most of them, Reilly said that the names percolating in the media for "Idol" panel seats were generally correct.
The only name Reilly would acknowledge was Jennifer Lopez, who served as judge in the 10th and 11th "Idol" season and appeared as a guest performer last year. Calling Lopez "a close part of the show all along," Reilly said that there have been "discussions" with the singer-actress, but that there was no deal in place.
"Idol" is currently in the midst of the judge-less part of the Season 13 audition process, with upcoming stops in Boston (Aug.2), Austin (Aug.7) and Omaha (Aug.11).
Stay tuned for more information on the remaining two or three "American Idol" judges.