Thursday, August 1, 2013

Keith Urban returning to 'American Idol'

Photo: Fox
Bill Keveney/USA TODAY

American Idol's country music judge is returning.

Fox entertainment chief Kevin Reilly confirmed that Keith Urban is returning for Season 13 of the singing competition at a Television Critics Association session in Beverly Hills today.

"Keith did a great job last year. The fans really liked him. Keith's a really funny guy," Reilly said. "You could see how much he loved the show."

Reilly also said that talks are ongoing with Jennifer Lopez, who was a judge during Seasons 10 and 11, about a possible return to the show.

"Jennifer has been a close part of the show all along. Obviously, she's even been on it since she left the panel, so there have been discussions there. There is no deal with her," he said.

After the panel, Reilly said the show could be interested in original judge Randy Jackson having a role in the show. Jackson and first-year judges Mariah Carey and Nicki Minaj all left the show after Season 12, which featured a significant ratings drop for the once top-rated show.

Reilly, who has said he wants to see Idol return to a three-judge panel, also said there is some interest in bringing back alumni, such as Adam Lambert and Jennifer Hudson, but he did not confirm any talks with anyone.

The Fox chief said he doesn't want the judges to overshadow the contestants.

"We want judges that are good at the job, that people like and refocus our attention on the contestants. I think even our own marketing maybe skewed that a little. It really became too much about the judges," he said.

The show also changed producers during the off-season, bringing in Per Blankens, who has overseen Idol in Sweden, to take the place of longtime executive producers Nigel Lythgoe and Ken Warwick.

New producers have "come in with some dynamic ideas to tinker with the format, particularly with those middle rounds in between the auditions and the live (episodes), and then some really fun ideas to (add) some new elements to the show itself," Reilly said.

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