‘American Idol’ Looks For a Happier Season with Harry Connick Jr.

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Jennifer Lopez, Harry Connnick Jr and Keith Urban were on hand yesterday (January 13, 2014) to promote the return of American Idol this Wednesday (January 15, 2014) on FOX.

The plan for the show is to produce a revitalized version of the show. Last season, which featured Urban, Nicki Minaj, and Mariah Carey as judges, hit a record low with its finale — seen by 14.3-million viewers, down 33% from the previous year.

The set is new, the lighting is new, the theme music is new — and the format will undergo some significant tweaks.

Contestants at auditions will be allowed to use instruments; the slow middle rounds, in which surviving contestants get sorted out, will be sharply condensed into what Kevin Reilly called a “two-hour blitzkrieg”; the results shows will shrink to a half-hour in the second part of the season.

Executive producer Trish Kinane spoke of Randy Jackson’s new position on the show. “There’s a new role for Randy this year, it’s a sort of Randy Jackson workshop,” added Kinane. “Randy is going to be hosting a two-day workshop where the kids who got through to the live show have an education, if you like, in song choices, personal style and other things.”

Jennifer Lopez talked about her return to the show. “Somehow we were able to work it out. We all love music. We love this journey, and we’re all fans of American Idol. I think that’s what’s going to make it sparkly and fresh and new again.”

Do you think this will be a successful season? Let us know what you think in the comments.

See more pics from the TCA panel by launching the gallery.