It’s official: Keith Urban is returning to “American Idol” as a judge next season, Fox announced Thursday at the Television Critics Association summer press tour in Los Angeles.
“I will confirm one thing: Keith is going to return to the show,” said Kevin Reilly, Fox Chairman of Entertainment, as he addressed a room full of reporters. “Keith’s a really funny guy, and I didn’t think he was able to let his full personality shine through” last season, due to the diva drama [between former judges Mariah Carey and Nicki Minaj] that overshadowed not just Urban, but also the contestants.
Reilly also confirmed that there have been serious discussions with Jennifer Lopez about returning to judge “Idol,” but he added firmly, “There are no deals.” However, according to People, sources close to Lopez claim they are “very close to signing a deal with Fox” for J.Lo to join Urban at the “Idol” judges’ table next season.
When it comes to re-building “Idol’s” judging panel, the Fox boss made one thing clear: “We want judges that are good at the job and that people like.”
Reilly admitted that “Idol” devolved into a marketing misfire last season. “It was too much about the judges,” he conceded, but Fox plans to get back to basics for Season 13: “We want to focus on those great stories with the kids this season.”
He also added that producers will be “tinkering with the format” to add a few fresh elements to the singing competition but did not offer any specific details.
The 13th season of “American Idol” will premiere in January 2014 on Fox.