UPDATED: At Fox‘s TCA presentation, the network’s entertainment chairman Kevin Reilly confirmed that Keith Urban is locked in to return as a judge on the upcoming season of American Idol. “He did a great job on the show, fans loved him and you can see how much he loved the doing show,” Reilly said. He confirmed that the network has had discussions with Jennifer Lopez, and that the other names floated around — they have included Jennifer Hudson, will.i.am and Dr. Luke — are all true. “All have been talked about and discussed,” he said, stressing that there are no deals in place. The network’s goal is to find judges who are “good at the job, people like and we refocus on the contestants.” Country crooner Urban joins host Ryan Seacrest as the only two Idol players from last season. Judges Mariah Carey, Randy Jackson and Nicki Minaj exited earlier in the summer.
While he won’t be on every show like he was for the past 12 seasons, original Idol judge Jackson “will be back in some capacity,” Reilly said after the session. “He is a friend of show, and certainly guests spots (are real possibility). He indicated that doing a panel with former Idol contestants was a scenario that was considered. “A lot of people wanted to do it but there were availability issues,” he said. I’ve heard former winners Carrie Underwood and Kelly Clarkson turned the offers down, while Hudson engaged and has been in talks.
The sweeping changes on Idol going into next season also included David Hill stepped in to succeed Fox reality head Mike Darnell and Per Blankens, Jesse Ignjatovic & Evan Prager replaced Nigel Lythgoe and Ken Warwick as exec producers. But Reilly dismissed the notion of a complete overhaul. ” I think you can’t throw the baby out with the bathwater.It is a top five show still… It needs some recalibration on some things and fresh new elements.” Alluding that the days of infighting on the judging panel that culminated with the Carey-Minaj feud last season are gone, he said, “I just want to find chemistry that is comfortable and right for the show and not have that be an issue.”