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Will.i.am in Talks to Join ‘American Idol’ as Jennifer Lopez Nears Deal

Lopez served as judge on the ailing singing competition during its tenth and eleventh seasons

Just over a year after she ankled her post as judge on “American Idol,” Jennifer Lopez is closing in on a return to the Fox singing competition program for its thirteenth season, a source confirmed to Variety.

News broke over the weekend that Lopez was nearing a deal that secures her a spot at the judges’ table, alongside Keith Urban, whom Fox chief Kevin Reilly confirmed is returning to “Idol” last week. While the deal is not complete for the multi-hyphenated Lopez, parties at Fox, FremantleMantle North America and the Lopez camp have reached agreements on certain points of her boomerang return to the veteran reality show.

Will.i.am is also in talks for a seat at the table, though his discussions are not nearly as progressed as Lopez’s.

Lopez served as judge initially on “Idol” during the program’s tenth and eleventh runs, before exiting last summer to pursue other career opportunities, including a new album and tour. Rumors spread earlier in the year as “Idol’s” twelfth season slumped in ratings that producers had hatched a plan to sub in Lopez for frosh judge Mariah Carey in a last ditch effort to rejuvenate the tepid season, but plans never solidified, and all camps denied such rumors.

Much has changed on “Idol” since Lopez’s 2012 departure. While judges Nicki Minaj and Mariah Carey logged just one season on the show before moving on after the twelfth season, original judge Randy Jackson has also exited the skein. What’s more, Fox’s alternative head and reality guru Mike Darnell left the company (and has since joined Warner Bros.), and David Hill, who flaunts an impressive resume as a former Fox Sports chairman, has stepped in to guide Fox’s tentpole singing competitions back to health. Longtime “Idol” producers Nigel Lythgoe and Ken Warwick were also shown the door.

“Idol” has begun to reassemble its creative ranks, though, tapping Per Blankens, Jesse Ignjatovic and Evan Prager as exec producers.

American Idol” will return to Fox’s lineup midseason, while “The X Factor” will debut its third season on the net this September.

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