After plenty of rumors, speculation and reports, Fox has gone and made their American Idol Season 13 "Dream Team" panel official, announcing the three judges who will be critiquing this season's crop of singing talent, as well as the mentor and host. At the judges table, we have Jennifer Lopez, Keith Urban and Harry Connick, Jr. Meanwhile, former judge Randy Jackson will be taking over for Jimmy Iovine as mentor, and Ryan Seacrest will continue what he does best in hosting the singing competition series.
None of this is exactly news, as there have been regular updates on the status of Idol for months now, but it looks like Fox is ready to lock it all in, as they've issued an official statement announcing what they call the "American Idol XIII Dream Team." At this point, Idol's sounding more like a sporting event, what with the Super Bowl-like roman numerals and the dream team mention. Still, it's good to know that Fox finally has this business settled as we head into the fall season. Of course, Idol doesn't return until Midseason, but the auditions for Season 13 are already underway. Fox says auditioners who try out in Atlanta, Austin, Boston, Detroit, Omaha, Salt Lake City and San Francisco will get to meet the new judges.
Of course, the phrase "new" is relative here. While this season's judges line-up is new, all three of the judges at the table have experience on Idol. Country singer Keith Urban is returning for his second year as judge, having joined the panel last season along with Nicki Minaj and Mariah Carey. Carey and Minaj's exits left room for two more judges, the first of which was Jennifer Lopez, who has judged the series previously. And the latest announced judge was Harry Connick, Jr., the Grammy winning artist, who also has two Emmy's under his belt, not to mention a sizable fan base who likely love him as much for his singing as they do his acting. Connick is the only new judge on the panel, though he has mentored on Idol before, so even he's not technically a complete newbie. Connick's casting came after reports that Dr. Luke was, then wasn't going to serve as the third judge for Idol, though Connick rumors have been circulating since May.
Meanwhile, on the mentor side, Randy Jackson has moved from judge to mentor this season, taking over for Jimmy Iovine. I'm not thrilled that Iovine's stepped out, as I always loved his spot-on criticism of the contestants, but considering Randy's the last remaining original judge for the series, and was originally said to be leaving the show, it's good to see him sticking around in some capacity.
And then, finally, we have Ryan Seacrest. Though he continues to pick up new projects, between his other hosting gigs and executive producing various shows, Seacrest has stuck with Idol from the beginning and the series is all the better for it, as far as I'm concerned. He makes hosting a live show look easy, though something tells me it's anything but.
UPDATE: Here's a photo of the new judges panel!
First set of judges without Randy in the mix!