*Fox Entertainment Chairman Kevin Reilly confirmed Thursday morning that Keith Urban will be returning to the judge’s table on “American Idol,” but would not say much about a People.com report that Jennifer Lopez is “very close to signing a deal with Fox to return.”
At Fox’s Television Critics Association presentation in Beverly Hills, Reilly did confirm that the network has had talks with Lopez.
“Jennifer has been a close part of the show all along. Obviously she’s been on it since she left the panel,” he said. “So there have been discussions there. [However], there is no deal with her or with anybody else. So I really can’t speak to it any more than that.”
As far as other rumored names to replace departing judges Randy Jackson, Mariah Carey and Nicki Minaj – most notably will.i.am, Jennifer Hudson and producer/remixer/instrumentalist Dr. Luke – Reilly told the assembled critics, “Most of what you’re reporting and what you’ve read is true. All of the names have been considered or are in discussion.”
Unscripted/event producing team Jesse Ignjatovic and Evan Prager, together known as Den Of Thieves, join Per Blankens as new executive producers for “Idol’s” upcoming 13th season, replacing longtime EPs Nigel Lythgoe (19 Entertainment) and Ken Warwick (FMNA), who both exited the show at last season’s end.
Blankens, hired by FMNA, executive produced five seasons of the Swedish version of “Idol,” while Ignjatovic and Prager, appointed by 19 Entertainment, have a production resume that includes the MTV Video Music Awards, MTV Movie Awards, CMT Awards, Critics’ Choice Movie Awards and VH1 Divas.
Below, Reilly talks more about Fox’s plan for the troubled show moving forward, including an emphasis on finding ‘comfortable judges who make [the show] comfortable to view.”