It's Official: Keith Urban to Return to 'American Idol'
The country singer is the first judge on the upcoming 13th season to be announced.
Country singer Keith Urban will be back behind the judging table on American Idol.
"Keith is going to return to the show," Fox entertainment chief Kevin Reilly told reporters Thursday at the Television Critics Association press tour. "The fans really liked him. Keith is a really funny guy."
There has been speculation about former Idol judge Jennifer Lopez — who was on from 2011-12 — possibly returning to the 13th season of Fox's singing competition series, with The Hollywood Reporter noting that talks on both sides had stalled over money.
While Reilly only would confirm Urban's return to Idol, he said that "most of the thing is true," with regard to Lopez's potential return. "There have been discussions, but there is no deal," Reilly said.
He also said that the new judging panel will "refocus our attention" on the contestants who are competing on Idol, instead of being heavily centered on the judges. Reilly admitted that the marketing efforts may have played a part in skewing public perception and attention.
"It really became too much about the judges," he conceded. "We want some comfortable judges to make it comfortable to view."
Reilly hinted that the current format may be tweaked slightly for the upcoming cycle. "[We] will tinker with the format," he said.
It is believed that Jennifer Hudson is finalizing a deal to become an Idol judge, with names like Will.i.am and Dr. Luke also being bandied about.
In late May, season 12 judges Nicki Minaj, Mariah Carey and veteran Randy Jackson announced their departures from Idol. Ratings for the most recent cycle were down more than 20 percent.