It’s official: Fox has named Harry Connick Jr., Jennifer Lopez and Keith Urban as American Idol’s newest judges panel.
The trio will kick off production on season 13 on Tuesday, Sept. 3, in Boston.
“I have always been a huge fan of American Idol and really enjoyed my time as a mentor on the show,” said Connick, whom The Hollywood Reporter last week confirmed would serve as a judge. “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.”
Fox also announced on Tuesday the return of Randy Jackson as the show’s in-house mentor and Ryan Seacrest as host, dubbing the five the “American Idol XIII Dream Team.”
“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 Kevin Reilly, chairman of entertainment, Fox Broadcasting Co. “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.”
Lopez returns for her third stint on the show, having previously served as a judge on seasons 10 and 11. Urban sat on the judges panel in season 12, while Connick will act as a judge for the first time. He is no stranger to the program, however, having appeared as a mentor and a performer several times before.
News that Connick was being considered for the gig came after hit maker Dr. Luke was unable to work out an agreement between his label, Sony Music, and Universal, which holds the rights to all Idol recordings. While Fox had initially hoped to bring another industry professional onto the panel, the show could have faced a delay if a third judge was not selected quickly. As THR previously reported, Fox was also reluctant to bring another woman on board after last season’s friction between Mariah Carey and Nicki Minaj, which did not play well with the show’s key older female demographic.
This season marks the first in Idol history to feature only pop stars on the panel, drawing parallels between the Fox mainstay and its NBC competitor, The Voice.
“I think this season of Idol is gonna be a blast,” said Urban. “New team, new energy and a whole new field of artists to be discovered and given a chance!”
American Idol XIII debuts in January 2014 on Fox. In the meantime, production will hit Atlanta, Austin, Detroit, Omaha, Salt Lake City and San Francisco for auditions.