Keith Urban Returning to 'American Idol'! Will J.Lo Fill the Next Judge's Seat? (And Will Fans Want Her!?)

With the reality show's 13th season going into production, will they finally find the right judging panel?

Keith Urban has signed on for another season of American Idol! (No doubt his contract stipulated that Nicki Minaj and Mariah Carey won't be allowed within 50 feet of the Kodak Theater).

At the Television Critics Association meeting on August 1, FOX Entertainment Chief Kevin Reilly had some other good news, too: He confirmed the reports that the show would like to bring Jennifer Lopez (who judged in seasons 10 and 11) back to the judging panel.

"Most of what you've been reporting is true," said Reilly. "Jennifer has been a close part of the show all along." But he also added: "There is no deal with her or with anybody else." Oh, come one, J.Lo! We know you want to come back!

But the question remains: Would fans want the singer back on the judging panel? Idol devotees definitely had a love-hate relationship with the female judge for not being critical enough when she really needed to be.

If she does return, there's no guarantee she'd be returning to the same show she left. After the show's dreadful ratings last season, FOX let go of longtime executive producers Nigel Lythgoe and Ken Warwick, and hired a team led by Per Blankens, an Idol producer from Sweden's version of the show.

"They've come in with dynamic ideas to tinker with the format between the auditions and the live," said Reilly. "We want some judges that are good at the job, that people like, that will refocus our attention on the contestants."

In 2010, Lythgoe expressed the same desire to put the spotlight back on the contestants. But in the years since, Idol has become even more focused on the interaction of increasingly outrageous personalities on the judging panel. Of all of the recent judges, Lopez and Urban were arguably the most likable, because of their willingness to let the contestants shine.

Reilly also confirmed talks with other potential judges, including Jennifer Hudson, and Dr. Luke. And as for original judge Randy Jackson, well, that dawg is always welcome. Jackson “will be back in some capacity,” Reilly told Deadline after the TCA session. “He is a friend of show, and certainly guests spots [are real possibility]."

That's also great news. Really, would it be American Idol without this?

Jennifer Graham Kizer is an iVillage contributing writer. Follow her on Google+.


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