According to the Hollywood Reporter, Harry Connick Jr. has signed a deal to become an American Idol judge. He’ll join the returning Keith Urban and Jennifer Lopez, who sat out a year after a two season stint.
Randy Jackson will also be returning to the show, but as a mentor to replace the departing Interscope Records exec, Jimmy Iovine.
Reportedly, Idol creator, Simon Fuller had a party Thursday night, and everyone was celebrating:
On Thursday evening, Idol producer Simon Fuller hosted a small party in the champagne room of Los Angeles hotspot Bouchon with series mainstay Randy Jackson (who will move from judge to mentor in the upcoming season), Urban, Lopez and Connick on hand to toast the forthcoming announcement.
Friday morning, Ryan Seacrest tweeted, “Got some @AmericanIdol news coming for you very soon…” I expect an official announcement to come regarding the addition of Jennifer and Harry as soon as the coming week. Keith’s return was announced during the TCA tour in July.
Idol has had a rough go filling the judges panel. Initially, there was talk the panel would be completely reconfigured. Filling the seats with Idol alums like Kelly Clarkson, Jennifer Hudson (who reportedly had a deal set to go) and Adam Lambert was shelved. Attempts to fill a seat with an industry professional flamed out (this is the option I would have prefered) when Dr. Luke bowed out due to a conflict of interest (Interscope has a deal with Idol, Luke has a deal with Sony) and Justin Bieber manager, Scooter Braun, decided not to pursue the opportunity.
Eventually, though, the FOX powers that be played it safe, bringing back two celebrity artists who already had experience on the panel (Jennifer and Keith), and one (Harry) who had appeared on the show twice to mentor. Not taking chances this season–after all, TPTB went out on a limb last season when they hired rap artist, Nicki Minaj, and we all know how that turned out.
Ironically, as a mentioned in an earlier post, this is the panel Nigel Lythgoe wanted to put together for last season…