Nellie Andreeva

You can never count a dawg out. After months of speculation that Randy Jackson, the last remaining original American Idol judge, may be relegated to a smaller role on the show next season, in a last-minute move, Fox has made a deal with him to return to the judging table, sources close to the situation said. The network already had an option on Jackson, so the deal-making was relatively straightforward and was wrapped quickly after talks with Enrique Iglesias broke off. Sources indicate that the reasons to move away from Iglesias, who had been in negotiations for the gig, were not strictly financial. At TCA in July, Fox entertainment chairman Kevin Reilly said that he fully expected Jackson to be back on the show without elaborating in what capacity. “Just heard Randy is back on Idol,” former Idol judge Simon Cowell tweeted tonight. “Right decision.” As Mariah Carey’s co-manager, Jackson played an important part in getting her on the show. Now, with both of their deals done, Fox is expected to unveil the new four-person judging panel this week as it finalizes the contracts for newcomers Keith Urban and Nicki Minaj.

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