What the what? After months of rumors indicating a brand-new American Idol Season 13 — possibly complete with Idol alums returning to the show as judges — Fox announced at the Television Critics Association press tour that Season 12 judge Keith Urban would be returning to next season of the singing reality series.
It's a curious decision for Idol, whose brand-new executive producer and mass exit on the judging panel seemed to indicate changing tides. But even though new judges Nicki Minaj and Mariah Carey announced their departure, and Randy Jackson retired from the series after 12 seasons, the country star will reprise his role.
But it seems Urban might not be the only familiar face back on the panel — rumors are swirling that Season 10 and Season 11 judge Jennifer Lopez is being recruited for one of the judging spots after leaving the show in Season 12 to embark on her tour. According to sources, Lopez is "very close to signing a deal," meaning that Idol intends to continue to be a marketing vehicle for A-list musicians.
The news of Urban, and rumors about Lopez, are a far cry from reports that circulated following the close of Season 12's season. Back in May, sources claimed Season 3 singer-turned-Oscar winner Jennifer Hudson had signed on to serve as judge, with Kelly Clarkson, Adam Lambert, and Clay Aiken being courted for other roles.
Since then, however, executive producer Nigel Lythgoe has been replaced by Swedish producer Per Blankens. And seeing how Lopez helped bring ratings that were never matched in Season 12, it's likely Fox is indeed hoping to bring Jenny back to the block. Only question is: Who else?