Nellie Andreeva

After the usual drama and down-to-the wire dealmaking, Fox has locked in its judging panel for the upcoming 13th season, with Harry Connick Jr and Jennifer Lopez joining Keith Urban, while original Idol judge Randy Jackson will replace Jimmy Iovine as in-house mentor. Lopez, Connick Jr and Urban, joined by Idol host Ryan Seacrest, are starting work today with the first taped auditions in Boston. For all the talk of shaking things up, the behind-the scenes changes of new Idol executive producers and a new Fox executive, David Hill, in charge of the veteran series did not extend to the screen as all on-air talent have been on the show before — Lopez, Urban and Jackson as judges and Connick Jr as a guest mentor. And with Lopez, Connick Jr. and Urban, Idol for the first time will have a judging panel entirely made of singers, resembling the group of mentors on rival The Voice. “Surprise, surprise! I am so happy to be back as part of this amazing show that started it all,” said Jackson, who announced his exit from Idol in May. While Iovine is being replaced as a mentor, his Universal Music Group’s Interscope Records will continue to release Idol winner and contestant music.

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