'American Idol': Jennifer Lopez nearing return as judge | EW.com

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'American Idol': Jennifer Lopez nearing deal to return as judge

J Lo

(Michael Becker/FOX)

American Idol’s season 13 judging panel is inching toward completion: Last week came the official news that Keith Urban would be returning, and now sources tell EW that former Idol judge Jennifer Lopez – who has been in the mix of potential judges – is very close to signing a deal to return to the reality singing competition.

At this point, Lopez’s deal is not signed – but it could be ready in as little as a few days. Lopez was an Idol judge during the 2011 and 2012 seasons of American Idol and was reportedly courted during the 2013 season as a possible replacement for judge Mariah Carey.

The third seat at the judging table remains much more up in the air: Sources say that Black Eyed Peas singer will.i.am is still in talks with Idol producers, but it’s unclear if he’s actively in negotiating a deal yet. Harry Connick, Jr., was in the running but is likely no longer being considered, while Idol alum and Oscar winner Jennifer Hudson was also a possibility but no longer seems to be a contender.

Sources tells EW that the Idol panel – much like when it originally launched with Randy Jackson, Simon Cowell, and Paula Abdul in 2002 – will include just three judges in the upcoming season, as opposed to four in recent seasons.

Fox had no comment on the negotiations. (Additional reporting by James Hibberd)

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