The new American Idol judges panel is slowly coming together.
As The Hollywood Reporter first reported on July 25, Idol alum Jennifer Lopez and hitmaker Will.I.Am are at the top of producers' wish lists for the 13th season of the Fox show, and, according to sources, are inching ever closer to joining the official lineup. Lopez's deal is expected to be signed any day now. Will's, however, is looking a little further off.
Lopez had served as judge for two previous seasons, in 2011 and 2012, while Black Eyed Peas frontman and prolific producer and songwriter will.i.am held a seat on the U.K. version of The Voice.
On Aug. 2 it was announced that Keith Urban, who sat alongside departed season 12 judges Nicki Minaj, Randy Jackson and Mariah Carey, would be returning to the show.
Talks with Idol alumni Jennifer Hudson, a season three finalist-turned-Oscar winner, and Adam Lambert, runner-up for season eight, fizzled after many weeks of internal debate.
According to a source, will.i.am and Lopez are "hilarious together." Choosing the two international pop stars also seems to appease new executive producer Per Blankens, who came over from Swedish Idol to take over for longtime EPs Nigel Lythgoe and Ken Warwick. An insider tells THR that the Swede was “looking for big names” to fill out the panel.
Although an official announcement of the new judges typically doesn't go out until September, when the second round of auditions bring hopefuls face-to-face with the pros, this year may prove to be different as new executive talent steps in to freshen up the 12-year-old series. Among them: Den of Thieves co-founders Jesse Ignjatovic and Evan Prager, who will produce the show, and News Corp. veteran David Hill, who'll oversee Idol along with Fox's other singing competition show, X Factor.