Harry Connick, Jr. Joins ‘American Idol’ as Final Judge

Fox formally announces judges' panel that includes Connick, Jr., Jennifer Lopez and Keith Urban

Harry Connick, Jr. has officially joined “American Idol” as a judge for the Fox competition’s thirteenth season.

The crooner rounds out a judges’ panel that includes previously-announced “Idol” vets Jennifer Lopez and Keith Urban. There will be no fourth judge on this season of “Idol,” though Randy Jackson, who ankled his judging post earlier this year, is sticking around to be an in-house mentor.

“I have always been a huge fan of ‘American Idol’ and really enjoyed my time as a mentor on the show,” said Connick, Jr. “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 to ‘American Idol,’ and to help emerging performers find their way.”

Connick, Jr. announcement follows months of speculation about the open spot at the “Idol” judges’ table. Dr. Luke, will.i.am, Jennifer Hudson and Scooter Braun were buzzed-about names during much of the search process, but it was ultimately Connick, Jr. — a late entrant into the race — who nabbed the seat after Dr. Luke’s deal reportedly fell apart.

With the judges’ panel now secured and a virtual overhaul of the producing team complete, David Hill’s work to reinvigorate “Idol” is beginning to come together. The former Fox Sports chairman who stepped in to guide “Idol” and “The X Factor” after reality topper Mike Darnell ankled Fox is known for innovation in sports programming. It’s yet to be seen, though, how the man who brought auds the ever-present game timer will put his visual stamp on the ailing Fox series, which saw record low ratings during its most recent season.

Fox chief Kevin Reilly admitted during the net’s summer TCA session that “Idol” had become too wound up in the celeb judges in recent years, so the addition of Connick, Jr. — a relatively un-polarizing singer — could bring the focus of the show back to the contestants and their musical abilities.

Ryan Seacrest, the seemingly only stable force on “Idol,” is optimistic about the changes.

“I couldn’t be prouder to be a part of the ‘American Idol XIII’ family. Our new producers, judging panel and mentor are all fired up for this season,” he said.

“Idol” returns to Fox’s lineup in January.

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