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'American Idol' judges to return -- all of them

Judges Keith Urban, left, Jennifer Lopez and Harry

(Credit: Fox / Michael Becker)

They're back -- all of them, so that professional "American Idol" watchers can no longer claim that everyone is abandoning the franchise: Jennifer Lopez, Keith Urban and Harry Connick Jr. will return as judges, for the 14th season. And just in time for July 23rd auditions at Nassau Coliseum. They are good judges so this is good news ... (and good certainly for beleagured "Idol," which needed some stabilizing news right about now.Judge turnover has been endemic in recent seasons).

“Jennifer, Keith, Harry and Ryan are the very best in the business at what they do, and I’m thrilled that they are returning to "American Idol" for another season. Each brings unique qualities and expertise to the team, but they all share the same passion for helping undiscovered singers achieve the American dream,” said David Hill, senior executive vice president, 21st Century Fox.

'American Idol' auditions coming to Nassau Coliseum

To all you "American Idol" hardcore fans, true believers, wannabe superstars, talents-waiting-to-be-discovered, and (most importantly) Long Island residents who know how to find their way to Nassau Memorial Veterans Coliseum, this news: The show will be holding auditions at the Coliseum on July 23.

Fox and "Idol" actually revealed the venue in early May, so consider this post either a reminder or a heads-up, if in fact this all does come as news. Go here for more details. For "Idol," this is a considerable change indeed, and for LI, a first. ("The X Factor" was here, as you may probably recall.)

"Idol" held auditions in New York City for the the first three seasons, and then switched to venues in New Jersey for seasons six through 12. (Separately, the show announced a "True Believer" contest Tuesday. in which someone can essentially nominate -- or encourage -- a contestant to audition. If that contestant then wins next year, the person who nominated the victor gets $50,000. Go here for entry forms.)

'American Idol' to shrink next season

Alex Preston performs Ed Sheeran's "The A Team"

(Credit: Fox / Frank Micelotta)

"American Idol" -- limping to the finish line this season, or "limping" relative to immediate previous seasons -- will be cut back to 37 hours next year, and likely air on one night per week as a two-hour edition, Fox Entertainment chief Kevin Reilly told TV writers recently. 

 But Reilly did offer a big vote of confidence in the veteran series, which has essentially fallen off the "franchise" pedestal this season: It will, he said, be around "many years," though in a diminished capacity, much as "Survivor" no longer dominates.... 

"It's not going to come back and be the ratings champ it was, but it will come back for many years to come as a potent time period show," he said. "In the same way 'Survivor' hasn't been [dominant] that's the mode with 'Idol.'" He also dashed any suggestion that "Idol" remains in some sort of "turnaround" limbo. "That story's been told..." The show will be reformatted next season -- no details except the change to 37 hours from the 50-plus-hour editions that have historically aired.

Just to refresh memories, as if they might actually need refreshing, "Idol" helped Fox win season after season through the '00s, much as "Sunday Night Football" has been so critical to NBC's turnaround. "Idol" is now essentially just another series - a successful one certainly, but a financially stressed one, given the enormous host salaries, and other related production expenses. Reilly said nothing about the hosts next season -- though nothing should be read into that. Host announcements invariably arrive in late summer or even early fall. 

 But he did certainly offer hope that the end is nowhere near in sight...

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