Emmy and Grammy winner Harry Connick Jr. is returning to American Idol! The former AI mentor is joining the show's upcoming 13th season as the third judge, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Mega-producer Dr. Luke (Katy Perry's Teenage Dream, Ke$ha's Animal) was originally slated to replace departing judges Mariah Carey, Randy Jackson and Nicki Minaj, but he dropped out of negotiations last week due to a conflict with his label at Sony Music. Connick Jr. will join returning judges Keith Urban and Jennifer Lopez on the hit FOX show.
"I have always been a huge fan of American Idol and really enjoyed my time as a mentor on the show," Connick Jr. said in a statement. "And I am honored that they’ve asked me to be a judge this season. As an entertainer, I am truly excited to bring my perspective to American Idol, and to help emerging performers find their way." Connick Jr., Lopez and Urban will kick off production on season 13 on September 3 in Boston, and the new season of American Idol will debuts in January 2014
Connick Jr. is best known as a jazzy cooner in the Sinatra mold, but has established strong ties to Broadway. A two-time Tony nominee for the score of the short-lived 2001 musical Thou Shalt Not and his lead performance in The Pajama Game, he has also played sold-out concert runs on the Great White Way in 1990 and 2010. In 2011, Connick Jr. starred as Dr. Mark Bruckner in a re-imagined Broadway revival of On a Clear Day You Can See Forever.