It’s official: Keith Urban is returning for another season of American Idol. FOX Entertainment chairman Kevin Reilly confirmed the news at the network’s Television Critics Association summer press tour on Thursday.
“I will confirm one thing that Keith is going to return to the show,” Reilly said. “He did a great job on the show, fans loved him and you can see how much he loved doing the show. … With a new panel, you are going to see that Keith is a really funny guy.”
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So that’s one spot locked up for season 13, with two seats left to fill. The latest reports and rumors have two-time Idol judge Jennifer Lopez in negotiations to return for a third year after taking a season off to focus on her music career, that included a world tour.
Reilly also revealed that FOX is in talks with Lopez, confirming what we reported on on Wednesday. “Jennifer has been a close part of the show all along … there have been discussions there. There is no deal with her or anyone else.” As far as the other names floating around — Jennifer Hudson, will.i.am and Dr. Luke — he went on to say, “all have been talked about and discussed,” though nothing has been set in stone and no contracts signed just yet.
A source told People that Lopez “is very close to signing a deal with FOX to return to American Idol next season. Both FOX and Jennifer are very happy about this and want it to happen very much. … now that the tour is over, she has more time to raise her family, do movies and pursue television projects.”
Viewers were very critical of the lack of chemistry among the season 12 panel that included Urban, Nicki Minaj, Mariah Carey and Randy Jackson (particularly with the two women); the latter three have announced their departures back in May.
So how do you go about improving the judges’ chemistry? Reilly said, “I can’t talk too much about [who’s returning] because we have to continue our yearly tradition of me not being able to say anything about the show.” But he’s looking to hire judges “that are good at the job, that people like and that refocus the attention on the contestants,” adding that they need “comfortable judges that make it comfortable to view [Idol].”
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(Image courtesy of WENN)