I’ve learned that Jennifer Lopez has reached an agreement on the major deal points to re-join Fox‘s singing competition series American Idol as a judge on its upcoming thirteenth season. An announcement is expected in the next week or two. Lopez will join returning judge Keith Urban and host Ryan Seacrest. The third Idol judging seat is still open, with will.i.am heaving tipped to take it. He has appeared on the show and is said to be high on the list of the Idol producers. As for alumna Jennifer Hudson, she had gone far down the line in deal-making but Fox and the Idol producers seem to be changing direction after fellow Idol alums Carrie Underwood and Kelly Clarkson could not commit for a panel of famous former contestants.
Details on Lopez’s new deal are sketchy but I hear she could be pulling a paycheck in the ballpark of what she most recently made on the show, said to be around $15 million. Idol and Lopez have been good for each other. Lopez’s career had stalled when in the summer of 2010 she was offered to join Idol. In doing so, she set a new salary benchmark for a reality star and saw a resurgence in her popularity. Meanwhile, Lopez helped Idol weather the high profile departure of star judge Simon Cowell, stemming the show’s anticipated ratings declines. Fox has so much faith in Lopez, it tried to bring her in this past spring to replace Mariah Carey in a bid to stop the show’s ratings dive. After a rocky 12th season, Idol, which has been outpaced by NBC‘s upstart The Voice in the ratings, is seeking a turnaround. Lopez, who left Idol in May 2012, is on a stronger footing now than she was in 2010. As a producer, she has a hit series in ABC Family‘s The Fosters, which just received a back order, and she is also a partner in NUVOtv, a channel for Latinos.