After weeks of playing coy, Fox has finally announced - officially this time - that Jennifer Lopez is returning to "American Idol" next season.
“Having both Jennifer and Steven [Tyler] return to 'Idol' in 2012 alongside Randy [Jackson] is such a positive reflection on what was a wonderful and hugely successful season last year, and everyone is delighted,” said series creator/executive producer Simon Fuller in a statement.
Fox's president of alternative programming, Mike Darnell added, “From the very first day of auditions, we knew we had something special in our new judges panel, and we’re so happy that America felt that way too. Together with Ryan [Seacrest] – who is fantastic day in and day out – they built an incredible connection with both the contestants and our viewers, and I’m absolutely thrilled to welcome them all back to Idol for another season.”
"Idol" executive producer Nigel Lythgoe recently let slip that the show's judicial trinity of Lopez, Tyler, and Jackson would not be broken up during a visit to Seacrest's radio show.
The announcement came after some coaxing from Seacrest. “Do you want to do the Jennifer announcement here or are we still waiting?” he asked.
“I am delighted to say that all three judges, along with the brilliant host of ‘American Idol,’ is back for the next season," said Lythgoe.
"American Idol" returns January 22nd, following the NFC Championship Game.