TCA: Keith Urban Officially Returning to ‘American Idol,’ Jennifer Lopez in ‘Discussions’

keithnews-article.png

Entertainment chairman Kevin Reilly confirms TheWrap's report the country singer will be back and discusses the network's direction for the show

It's official: Keith Urban is returning next season on Fox's "American Idol," as TheWrap first reported on Wednesday.

Entertainment chairman Kevin Reilly made the announcement during Thursday's Television Critics Association panel.

"Keith did a great job last year," he said. "The fans really liked him. I think with a new panel, you're going to see Keith's a really funny guy. I think he didn't get to really let his personality show."

Also read: 'American Idol' Faces Judges Decision: Inside the 'J. Lo or J-Hud?' Diva Dilemma (Exclusive)

Reilly went on to speak about the reports that have come out about next season's panel, which as we reported includes Jennifer Lopez in negotiations, Jennifer Hudson on hold and Will.I.Am in negotiations.

"Most of what you've reported and you've read is true," he said. "Most of the names have been considered and are in discussions. Jennifer [Lopez] has been a close part of the show for a long [time], obviously she's even been on it since she left the panel. So, there have been discussions there."

The exec emphasized that there is no deal with Lopez "or anyone else." As we reported, Hudson has struck a deal with the producers but her contract has not been finalized.

Also read: 'American Idol' Sued by 10 Black Contestants Alleging Racial Smear Campaign

After the panel, Reilly told reporters he couldn't confirm Hudson nor talks with Adam Lambert. He did confirm that the all-alumni panel plan was scrapped due to breakdowns in booking. We reported on Wednesday that the idea fell away after producers failed to sign Kelly Clarkson.

As for format changes, he said that the new executive producers are bringing in a lot of new ideas particularly in the middle rounds between the auditions and the live shows and to bring new elements to show itself.

"The main thing we're doing this year is we want some judges in that are good at the job, that people like and refocus our attention on the contestants," he elaborated. "It really became too much about the judges. We want some comfortable judges that make for good, fun, comfortable viewing experience and let's really focus on those great stories with the kids."