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Lionel Richie, Luke Bryan join ‘American Idol’ as judges

Lionel Richie, left, and Luke Bryan perform

Lionel Richie, left, and Luke Bryan perform at CMT Artists of the Year 2013 at Music City Center on Dec. 3, 2013 in Nashville, Tennessee. Credit: Getty Images for CMT / Rick Diamond

Pop singer Lionel Richie and country superstar Luke Bryan will join Katy Perry as judge on ABC’s reboot of “American Idol,” expected to return early next year, the network said in a statement Friday. All three will appear on “Good Morning America” on Wednesday.

“I am very excited to be joining Katy, Luke and Ryan [Seacrest] on ‘American Idol,’” said Richie in a statement. “As a singer, songwriter and producer, I feel I can bring a great deal of experience to the table. It’s going to be so much fun!”

“I’m excited at the chance to help some deserving artists reach their dreams,” Bryan’s statement said. “To be in a position in my career to help facilitate this along with the other judges is just a complete honor. It’s gonna be a blast!”

It’s going to be lucrative, too. Perry will earn a reported $25 million for her spot at the table, which Variety said last May could amount to roughly half the show’s budget. If true, with Richie, Bryan and host Ryan Seacrest now aboard, there may not be enough left over to pay the band. (ABC did not specify salaries.)

With these three, ABC appears to have covered its generational and geographical bases. After Garth Brooks, Bryan may be the biggest star in country music. During the decadelong run on Fox, “Idol” drew increasingly large audiences geared to country music, most notably the south, but never particularly embraced the genre. Keith Urban was the only judge with country music bona fides, although he is more of a country/pop rock fusion artist. Bryan is pure country, which indicates ABC has gotten the message: Pay attention to those parts of the country most likely to tune in.

Meanwhile, Richie, 68, is a superstar to a generation probably 50 years older on average than the one that follows Perry. His songs are part of the soundtrack to those lives: “Endless Love,” “Lady,” “Truly,” “All Night Long,” “Penny Lover,” “Stuck on You,” “Hello,” “Say You, Say Me,” “Dancing on the Ceiling” and “We Are the World.”

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