American Idol has finally released a debut date for the 13th season of the Fox vocal competition contest. The first episode will air on Wednesday, January 15, with a second episode coming the day after. Both of the first two episodes will be two hours.
Fox had been struggling to find replacement judges following the twelfth season of the show. For one, both Nicki Minaj and Mariah Carey left after their first run as judges, not surprising considering the contentious relationship that the pair had on and off the screen. Randy Jackson, the only original judge remaining on the cast, decided to give up his seat as well, although he'll remain on the cast as an in-house mentor, replacing Jimmy Iovine. That left Keith Urban as the only remaining judge, and rumors of contractual struggles led some to believe that the season would need to be delayed.
However, two judges were found, and the show will return to its original format of a three-judge panel, following the less-than-successful four-judge experiment during season 12. Jennifer Lopez was long rumored to be returning to the show, and the network confirmed that she would be returning. The pop star had previously held a seat during seasons 10 and 11, but took a hiatus during season 12. The network also announced that pop-jazz vocalist Harry Connick Jr. would make his debut in the final judge's seat.
Producer Dr. Luke, heavily involved in the work of Katy Perry and Britney Spears, was also in the running for the final position, but contractual negotiations broke down at the last moment, forcing Fox to scramble and find a replacement in order to keep the show on schedule.
One alteration has been made to the show's format, probably due to the recent decrease in viewership: The results episodes will now run only half an hour, versus the traditional full hour.