While other shows go after the youth vote with their judges’ panels, “American Idol” is going classic for the upcoming thirteenth season. After months of speculation, producers have signed on former mentor jazz singer Harry Connick Jr., as the third judge, joining a panel that includes returning country star Keith Urban and second-time-arounder Jennifer Lopez.
There will be shake-ups behind the scenes as well, with Interscope boss Jimmy Iovine out and former O.G. judge Randy Jackson sliding from the table to the in-house mentor position. As usual, Ryan Seacrest will host the show, which suffered through one of its most polarizing (and ratings-challenged) seasons last year when now-departed battling divas Mariah Carey and Nicki Minaj often drew the attention away from the performers.
“I have always been a huge fan of ‘American Idol’ and really enjoyed my time as a mentor on the show,” said Connick Jr., 45,who added, “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.”
Lopez, 44, who was a judge in 2011 and 2012, is back for a third go-round after the raft of other names that were tossed into the ring failed to materialize. Among the stars who were reportedly in talks to join “Idol” were producer/singer will.i.am, producer Dr. Luke, Justin Bieber manager Scooter Braun and a number of former “Idol” winners and finalists. Longtime executive producers Nigel Lythgoe and Ken Warwick have also left the show.
“Surprise, surprise! I am so happy to be back as part of this amazing show that started it all,” said Jackson in a statement. “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.”
“Idol” will be back in January and production on the upcoming season is slated to kick off on Tuesday (September 3) in Boston.