The wait is over -- the new judging panel for "American Idol" season 13 has been revealed and will be made up of Harry Connick Jr., Jennifer Lopez and returning judge Keith Urban, FOX has confirmed to OTRC.com.
The news comes after months of speculation and rumors about casting and follows the departure of season 12 newbies Mariah Carey and Nicki Minaj and veteran Randy Jackson, who stepped down as a judge after 12 seasons on the show. Lopez had served on the panel alongside Jackson and Aerosmith frontman Steven Tyler during seasons 10 and 11.
Jackson is also set to return to the singing competition show as the in-house mentor, replacing Interscope Records co-founder Jimmy Iovine after three seasons in the role. In a statement to FOX, Jackson said, "Surprise, surprise! I am so happy to be back as part of this amazing show that started it all. Season 1-3 is the place to be. The original talent show is back with a vengeance and ready to discover the best talent in America."
Lopez tweeted to her more than 23 million Twitter followers about her return to the show, saying, "#IDOL2014TheRemix ...see ya soon." Auditions for the show are scheduled to begin Sept. 3 in Boston.
UPDATE: Jennifer Lopez talks 'American Idol' return to Ryan Seacrest. Read the story.
Connick Jr., who previously served as an "American Idol" mentor, said in a statement to FOX, "I have always been a huge fan of "American Idol" and really enjoyed my time as a mentor on the show. 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."
Urban also shared his delight for the new judges, saying to FOX, "I think this season of "American Idol" is gonna be a blast. New team, new energy and a whole new field of artists to be discovered and given a chance!"
Long-time host Ryan Seacrest teased the announcement of the new judges on Monday, Sept. 2 on Twitter, saying, "Dusting off the @AmericanIdol judges table. New tenants move in tomorrow..." He said later in a statement to FOX, "I couldn't be prouder to be a part of the "American Idol" XIII family. Our new producers, judging panel and mentor are all fired up for this season."
"American Idol" season 13 returns to FOX in January 2014.
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