Big Changes Heading to AMERICAN IDOL; Read What's in Store This Season!


The 13th season of FOX's American Idol premieres tomorrow, January 15th. As has previously been reported, the season will feature an all-new judge's panel comprised of returning judges Keith Urban and Jennifer Lopez and new judge Harry Connick Jr.

In addition, it was revealed that former AI judge Randy Jackson will serve as a mentor on the new season which will air its finale from New York's Madison Square Garden.

Today The Hollywood Reporter shares other new and exciting changes which viewers can expect to see throughout the 13th installment of the long-running musical competition, including:

1. Contestants will be performing more current songs while the show will offer more "wide-open themes" so that no one is forced into a particular song or genre.

2. America will vote-in the final 10 contestants from a group of 30. Each judge will then have an additional 'wild card' pick, bringing the total number of contestants to 13 when the live shows begin airing on February 20th.

3. Randy Jackson's "Boot Camp!" will feature Jackson guiding the contestants through the star-making machine. Says a source, "The boot camp is so that America will really get to know the contestants before they vote for the first time."

4. The season will feature the return of American Idol alumni, not just the superstars, but past finalists as well. "We're always open to it. We collectively love the idea of bringing previous Idols back to the show."

5. As one backstage source reveals, they'll be no more judges showing up late for the show, ala last year's Nicki Minaj. "Everyone shows up on time and there's no waiting around," says the source, adding that there is a noticeably "lighter" vibe among the cast and crew. "They really do want to make sure to get a big one this year."

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