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‘American Idol’ bits: Harry Connick Jr. confirms he’s coming back next year; Clay Aiken

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Harry Connick Jr. is back in 2015 for "Idol." CREDIT: Getty Images

Harry Connick Jr. is back in 2015 for “Idol.” CREDIT: Getty Images

On a press conference today, Harry Connick Jr. confirmed to me what he told “Kelly & Michael” earlier in the day: he’s coming back in 2015 for season 14.

“I’ve had a blast. I’ve gone through my negotiation process and I’m gonna be coming back next year! I don’t know about Jen and Keith, I would hope that they are able to come back too. It’s just been an amazing journey. I look forward to doing it again.”

This isn’t a surprise. Kevin Reilly, president of Fox Television, on Monday said they were in line to get all the judges and Ryan Seacrest back. But it appears Connick’s deal was the first one finalized for sure among the judges.

I was first up on the press conference but was only able to ask two questions. I followed that with a soft-ball about how the chemistry of the three judges played a factor in his desire to return. Of course, that is the case. (I probably should have asked what he thought of losing the results show since nobody ultimately asked him that.)

“It’s really tough to fake that. It’s live TV. We spend a lot of time with each other–from the audition stage to backstage, to traveling. They are great to be with. Keith is an immensely talented, super bright, fun guy.  Impossible not to fall in love with him. He’s just terrific. And Jen is as lovely and bright as you would hope. It’s a great combination of us hanging out having fun and being judges on a competition that is to be taken very seriously for these competitors. They’re putting their professional careers at risk, like getting up in front of us every week. It spans the gamut and I’ve had a blast.”

This was not a bunch of hard-hitting reporters. Someone asked what advice he would you give these contestants about the real world after “Idol.” He said he’d give 10 different answers to the final 10. MJ was on the line, too, and she asked what were his favorite performances among the final three: he loved Jena’s “Creep,” Caleb’s “Still of the Night” and Alex’s “Always on My Mind.”

He also explained why he remains in his seat and looks so serious during the performances compared to J.Lo and Keith: he simply likes to be fair and take the judging process as impartially as possible.

Nobody asked him about the changes to the show next year and only one person broached the poor ratings. Connick was asked if it mattered to him whether the show drew 7 million and 30 million. He said he acted the same either way.

***

Clay Aiken officially wins the Democratic slot for the House race his North Carolina district near Raleigh.  The final vote count difference was 390 votes, more than enough to avoid a run-off. Then again, his opponent died on Monday so it was a moot point. Then again, the late Keith Crisco was planning to concede anyway. U.S. Rep. Renee Ellmers is favored to win a heavily conservative district.

For now, Aiken has suspended campaigning in respect to Crisco’s family.

***

Oddsmakers are still doing pools in Vegas for “Idol.” AmericanIdol.net says Jena is favored to win, just edging Caleb. Alex has been third or lower for weeks.

***
SPOILER ALERT: songs we will hear tonight include current hits such as “Pompeii,” “Titanium,” “Demons,” “Heart Attack,” “Story of My Life” and “Stay” plus older songs such as “Dazed and Confused” and “Never Tear Us Apart.”

 

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