Jennifer Lopez, Harry Connick, Jr. join 'American Idol' judging 'dream team'
"American Idol" has assembled its "dream team" of judges for season 13, the show announced on Tuesday — and they number only three: Keith Urban, Jennifer Lopez and judging table newcomer Harry Connick, Jr.
Randy Jackson, who has been with the show since its first season, will now serve as an "in-house mentor," the show said in a news release. Host Ryan Seacrest remains in his usual spot.
Connick, Jr. had been rumored for some time as the panel's likely new judge; he's a familiar face on the show, having appeared several times as both mentor and performer.
"I have always been a huge fan of 'American Idol,' and really enjoyed my time as a mentor on the show," Connick, Jr. said in a statement. "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 was part of "Idol" in 2011, but did not participate last season.
Jackson, who had said he was leaving the show in May, is an unexpected return. "Surprise, surprise!" he said in a statement. "I am so happy to be back as part of this amazing show that started it all. "Season 13 is the place to be. The original talent show is back with a vengeance and ready to discover the best talent in America."
Urban, meanwhile, will experience his second season at the judges' table. "I think this season of 'Idol' is gonna be a blast," he said in a statement. "New team, new energy and a whole new field of artists to be discovered and given a chance!"
The trio who will make up the judges' panel this upcoming season is a trimming-back; last season the four-person panel included Mariah Carey and Nicki Minaj, neither of whom are returning. Season 12 was a tough one for "Idol," which suffered from lower ratings, few breakout artists and the public ouster in June of longtime executive producers Nigel Lythgoe and Ken Warwick.
Auditions this season will be held in Atlanta, Austin, Boston, Detroit, Omaha, Salt Lake City and San Francisco. Production with the judges begins in Boston on Sept. 3, and season 13 debuts on Fox in January.