In addition to a reconfigured judging panel and new showrunners,  American Idol will have a new director this season: Seven time Emmy Award-winning americanidolmikeproducer/director/writer Louis J. Horvitz. He replaces Gregg Gelfand. Horvitz is one of the go-to directors for live TV, having overseen the live broadcasts of the Academy Awards, the Emmy Awards, the Grammy Awards and the Kennedy Center Honors ceremonies. He has won five Emmy Awards for his work on the Oscars and two for his work on the Kennedy Center Honors. “We are incredibly lucky to have Louis joining American Idol XIII this season,” said Trish Kinane, President of Entertainment Programming, FremantleMedia North America. “He is a true talent who has overseen some of the most glamorous and entertaining productions on U.S. television.”

American Idol debuts with a two-night, four-hour premiere Wednesday, January 15 (8-10 PM ET/PT) and Thursday, January 16 (8-10 PM ET/PT). The new judging panel includes returning Jennifer Lopez, who took off last season, as well as last season’s freshman Keith Urban; they’re joined by new judge Harry Connick, Jr., Randy Jackson has taken over the mentor role.

In addition to directing, Horvitz also has executive-produced An Evening Of Stars for 14 years, for which he and his team won three NAACP Image Awards. He has directed the Primetime Emmy Awards 17 times, the American Film Institute’s (AFI) Life Achievement Awards 21 times ,and The Kennedy Center Honors, for which he won a Director’s Guild of America (DGA) Award, 22 times.

In a career that has spanned more than four decades, Horvitz has directed numerous other high-profile programs, including the XXI Olympic Winter Games opening and closing ceremonies, Stand Up 2 Cancer, American Music Awards, Fashion Rocks, MTV Video Music Awards, VH1 Hip Hop Honors, VH1 Divas, Live Aid and the landmark musical variety series, Solid Gold. He also directed Kids Inaugural: We Are The Future for President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama, VH1 Concert for New York City, benefiting survivors of 9/11, U2’s halftime show at Super Bowl XXXVI and the Rolling Stones’ Steel Wheels Tour.