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Harry Connick Jr. is returning to American Idol — this time, in a judge’s seat.
The singer, who has appeared on the Fox reality competition multiple times as a mentor and performer, is inking a deal to serve as a judge alongside Keith Urban and Jennifer Lopez on the upcoming 13th season, a source close to the show tells The Hollywood Reporter.
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The news comes one week after THR revealed that Dr. Luke, previously considered a frontrunner for the position, dropped out of negotiations due to a conflict with his label at Sony Music. (Sony rival Universal Music Group holds exclusive rights to American Idol recordings.)
Earlier this week, THR reported that Connick was a contender for the gig as Fox was reluctant to bring another woman on board after last season’s friction between Mariah Carey and Nicki Minaj, which did not play well with the show’s key older female demographic. While the network had hoped to bring an industry professional into the mix, time is of the essence. Had the show not signed a third judge soon, production could have faced a delay.
On Thursday evening, Idol producer Simon Fuller hosted a small party in the champagne room of Los Angeles hotspot Bouchon with series mainstay Randy Jackson (who will move from judge to mentor in the upcoming season), Urban, Lopez and Connick on hand to toast the forthcoming announcement.
Friday morning, Ryan Seacrest set fans’ tongues wagging with a tweet: “Got some @AmericanIdol news for you coming very soon…”
Fox declined to comment.
Justin Bieber‘s manager Scooter Braun had been widely reported as the show’s next likely candidate after Dr. Luke was officially out, but Braun reportedly passed on the opportunity.
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