Following the official announcement at Thursday's Television Critics Association Fox presentation that Keith Urban is returning to "American Idol" for Season 13, "omg! Insider" is exclusively reporting that the two other panelists sitting alongside Keith will be the Black Eyed Peas' will.i.am and, as long rumored, returning judge Jennifer Lopez.
While other outlets are reporting that Jennifer is still negotiating her new "Idol" deal, Brad Bessey, executive producer of "omg! Insider," tweeted the bombshell news that it's a done deal shortly after Fox's TCA panel, and he told Yahoo! Music's Reality Rocks that his "VERY INSIDE" source is "as reliable as can be."
"omg! Insider" has also learned that will.i.am will apparently sit to J.Lo's right and Keith to her left, putting the reinstated "Idol" queen in the center throne.
A Fox rep did not respond to Yahoo!'s request for comment.
— omgInsider (@omgInsider) August 1, 2013
Considering that J.Lo and Keith are returning judges, and Will has been an off-and-on "Idol" fixture for the past three seasons, this hardly seems like the drastic revamp "Idol" fans were promised after longtime producers Ken Warwick and Nigel Lythgoe were recently replaced by "Swedish Idol's" edgier Per Blankens. Is this really the panel that can turn the show around in Season 13? Let's look at the pros and cons for all three...
Pro: Well, she provides a bit of nostalgia. Though she wasn't an original "Idol" judge — the last of the old guard left with Randy Jackson earlier this year — she was the star judge of two seasons that yielded two very successful winners, Season 10's Scotty McCreery and Season 11's Phillip Phillips. Ratings plummeted after J.Lo left, and rumors that she might return to the show and replace Mariah Carey started circulating before Season 12 was even over. So Jenny's return to the "Idol" block will no doubt be heralded as a literal Second Coming next year by "Idol" fans, or at least by "Idol" producers and publicists.
Con: Her musical expertise is, well, questionable. She's not a powerhouse singer, she doesn't know who Ryan Adams is, she doesn't recognize Jimi Hendrix songs, and she thinks every single contestant is just wonderful and fantastic. Let's see if J.Lo can step it up and be a tougher, more informed judge after her time away.
Pro: The MVPea definitely has the expertise. He's been a judge on "The Voice U.K.," a mentor on "The X Factor," and he's clearly been angling for this big gig ever since his buddy Jimmy Iovine joined "Idol," if the number of times he's loitered on the set and seemingly refused to go away is any indication. Will also turned Fergie into a star and has worked with A-listers like Britney Spears, Rihanna, Usher, and Justins Bieber and Timberlake. The man has an impressive track record, that's for sure.
Con: He can be, um, a little annoying. There were a few times on "Idol," during his many guest-mentoring sessions or that gawd-awful Great Gatsby musical number, when he overstayed his welcome so much that I wanted Fox security to come drag him away. Seeing will.i.am on TV every week might be a bit much.
Pro: He appeals to "Idol's" core demo. He's a good-looking, likable, guitar-playing country boy, basically "Idol's" answer to "The Voice's" Blake Shelton. And he's a "WGWG"!
Con: He's a little too milquetoast, a little too nice. Mariah Carey and Nicki Minaj completely upstaged him last season. Can Keith shine on the show next to golden girl J.Lo's high wattage and will.i.am's strong personality? I certainly hope so.
What do you think of this panel? Let me know in the comments section below.