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Country singer Keith Urban returning as 'American Idol' judge

American Idol judge and country music star Keith Urban arrives at the Season 12 finale of "American Idol" in Los Angeles, Calfiornia May 16,
American Idol judge and country music star Keith Urban arrives at the Season 12 finale of "American Idol" in Los Angeles, Calfiornia May 16,

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Country singer Keith Urban will be returning to "American Idol" as a judge when the Fox singing contest returns for its 13th season next year, Fox Broadcasting Company said on Thursday.

"I will confirm one thing, Keith is going to return to the show, you could see how much he loved the show," Kevin Reilly, chairman of entertainment at Fox told reporters at a Television Critics Association meeting.

"Idol," once a ratings juggernaut for Fox, has slumped in recent years and is in the midst of revamping its judging panel after high-priced talent Mariah Carey and Nicki Minaj failed to boost viewership last season.

Pop singer Carey and rapper Minaj announced after the "Idol" May finale that they were leaving the talent show, while longtime judge Randy Jackson also bowed out.

Singer Jennifer Lopez, who left the show in 2012 after two seasons as a judge, may return to the panel when "Idol" begins in January, Reilly said.

"There is no deal with her or with anybody else," he said after saying Fox has had discussions with Lopez about a return.

"Idol," which premiered in 2002 and drew more than 30 million viewers during its peak years of 2006 and 2007, attracted only 14.2 million viewers for its finale, in which vocal powerhouse Candice Glover won the competition.

The show's longtime producer, Nigel Lythgoe, was let go in June and replaced by Swedish producer Per Blankens, who was most recently the producer of Sweden's version of the show.

(Reporting by Lisa Richwine; Writing by Eric Kelsey; Editing by Mary Milliken and Leslie Adler)

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