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After months (and months) of speculation about TV's-still-most-important-but-fading series, "American Idol" has finally settled on a full complement of judges and a very familiar face in the role of mentor. Harry Connick Jr. has been named the third judge, joining Jennifer Lopez and Keith Urban. Randy Jackson will take over the role as contestant mentor.
“I have always been a huge fan of 'American Idol' and really enjoyed my time as a mentor on the show,” Connick Jr. said in the statement. “And I am honored that they’ve asked me to be a judge this season. As an entertainer, I am truly excited to bring my perspective [and] to help emerging performers find their way.” The announcement also confirmed Lopez - long rumored to be rejoining, but the show, as its wont, waited until the third judge was in place before making her official too.
Last season, the 13th, averaged 17.9 million viewers — still a huge crowd but down four million from the season before. The addition of Connick Jr. does not portend, however, a radical redirection, but quite the contrary. A back to basics approach that should appeal to — as opposed to disenfranchise — the older viewers who continue to watch. "Idol's" teen base has diminished steadily and dramatically, and the new panel would seem to indicate that it's not about to return in force, ever again.
To recap: Three "Idol" judges, Jennifer Lopez, returning after a year; Keith Urban, the only holdover; Connick Jr., a familiar presence here as mentor; and Randy, as full time mentor.
Here's the quote from the boss, Kevin Reilly, Fox Entertainment chief:
“AMERICAN IDOL has always been about discovering the next singing superstar, and next season our judging panel will deliver a most impressive combination of talent, wisdom and personality to do just that: Jennifer Lopez, the triple-threat global superstar who loves IDOL and whom IDOL fans love; Harry Connick, Jr., a bona fide musical genius and fantastic IDOL mentor whose honesty and expertise can help turn these hopefuls into stars; Keith Urban, a multi-Grammy-winning artist who was such a positive force on the show last season. We are also very excited to have our friend Randy Jackson now in a new role as mentor, and the captain of our team — the heart and soul of IDOL — Ryan Seacrest returning as host.”