By Lynn Elber Associated Press
LOS ANGELES — “American Idol” is betting that a judges’ remix with Jennifer Lopez, Harry Connick Jr. and Keith Urban will fare better with viewers than bickering divas Mariah Carey and Nicki Minaj did last season.
The rumored addition of Lopez and Connick as judges for season 13 was announced Tuesday by Fox. They’ll join Urban to make up the talent show’s first panel consisting solely of singers — a la NBC’s successful 2011 upstart “The Voice.”
Pop star and actress Lopez will be back on “American Idol” after a two-season run as judge in 2011 and 2012 that was a boon for the show and her career. Connick, a respected jazz singer and musician, proved adept as a mentor in several “Idol” appearances.
Urban’s return to the contest was announced last month by Fox Chairman Kevin Reilly, who said the singer didn’t get a chance to show his personality in his first turn as a judge. Urban appeared overwhelmed last season by the Carey-Minaj crossfire that drew complaints from some viewers.
“I think this season of `Idol’ is gonna be a blast,” Urban said in a statement Tuesday. “New team, new energy and a whole new field of artists to be discovered and given a chance!”
Fox also announced that original judge Randy Jackson, who exited along with Carey and Minaj at the end of last season, will be back in a new role as in-house mentor to the contestants. Ryan Seacrest, also part of “Idol” from the start, will again host.
“Surprise, surprise! I am so happy to be back as part of this amazing show that started it all,” said Jackson. “The original talent show is back with a vengeance and ready to discover the best talent in America.”
Record executive Jimmy Iovine had served as mentor in recent seasons. Fox said that Universal Music Group’s Interscope Records, under Iovine’s direction as chairman, will continue to release “Idol” winner and contestant music.
Although judges have been a part of the show’s entertainment formula since the early antics of Simon Cowell and Paula Abdul, “Idol” also won viewers by discovering future stars including Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood and Jennifer Hudson. But recent winners haven’t caught similar fire as recording artists.
Seacrest, also set to host NBC’s new “The Million Second Quiz,” said that early “Idol” auditions have cemented his belief “that a new superstar is within our sights.”
Tryouts are ahead in Atlanta; Austin, Texas; Boston; Detroit; Omaha, Neb.; Salt Lake City and San Francisco. “American Idol” returns in January.