Harry Connick Jr. on joining the judges panel at ‘American Idol’

NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 07:  Actor Harry Connick Jr. attends Broadway Talks Conversations with Harry Connick Jr. at the 92nd Street Y on February 7, 2012 in New York City.  (Photo by Michael Stewart/WireImage)
Harry Connick Jr. joins the judges panel at “American Idol,” which has a two-night premiere Jan. 15 and Jan. 16 on FOX. Credit: Michael Stewart/WireImage

For Harry Connick Jr., joining this year’s “American Idol” judges lineup was a no-brainer.

“It just felt like a natural thing to do,” says the multiplatinum Grammy winner, who will take a seat alongside Jennifer Lopez and Keith Urban on the judges panel when “Idol” returns with a two-night premiere Wednesday and Thursday on FOX. “My whole life has been a lot of interaction with people who are a lot better than I am, and as I got older I started to be on the giving end of those things. … I feel very comfortable in that kind of environment.”

The singer is no stranger to “Idol,” having served as a mentor to contestants in 2010 and 2013. He even cops to watching the show since day one. Becoming a permanent fixture on the scene, he says, is “different, but not a surprise.”

“It’s extremely intense. The days are long. It’s very emotional, but it’s just the wildest ride, and it’s a wonderful ride with great people, and I really just like being a part of it. … We’re just having a ball.”

Despite a rotating cast of superstar judges (Mariah Carey, Nicki Minaj, Steven Tyler and Ellen DeGeneres have all served on the show) “Idol” has been on the ratings decline in recent years. Connick says he didn’t ask Lopez or Urban for advice before his new gig because “it’s not rocket science.”

This marks the first year without industry vet Randy Jackson as an “Idol” judge. Jackson is shifting into an in-house mentor role, a move that Connick is happy with.

“Randy Jackson is great. … But it’s a new show now,” he says. “It has different producers, different directors, different panel, different contestants. It has a new look, it has a new feel, and it’s a new day for this great show. Fortunately for all of us Randy is still a huge part of it as a mentor, and I think the kids are going to be very lucky to have him on their side.”

And the kids who have Connick on their side will know — the singer says he won’t be shy about doling out critiques. “Sometimes you do have to give bad news, and the truth is the best thing these kids can hear. I think you can be diplomatic about it, but you also have to be real. You have to tell it like it is.”


Mutant worms stay sober, even on alcohol

U.S. researchers have developed "mutant worms" that do not get drunk by alcohol, a breakthrough that could lead to new treatment for people trying to quit drinking


K-9 nose helps capture $150K in cocaine at…

A furry, four-legged security agent helped authorities stop an illegal cocaine shipment from sneaking past JFK customs.


Minnesota man asked to leave Southwest flight after…

A man and his two sons were asked to leave a Southwest Airlines flight after the man sent a tweet complaining about being treated rudely by a gate agent.


Man sues hospital after surprise penis amputation

An Alabama man who went in to a hospital last month for a circumcision awoke after surgery to find his penis had been amputated, his lawyer said on Thursday.


Review: Brett Ratner's big 'Hercules' movie is small…

The latest "Hercules," starring Dwayne Johnson as the half-god beefcake of Greek myth, strips its hero and tale of most of its fantastical elements.


Scientists recreate world's smallest Monet copy

Scientists have reproduced a famous Impressionist painting using nano-printing, to create what has been described as the world's smallest work of art. Reworked at the…


Jerry Seinfeld is ambidextrous, and other Reddit AMA…

See some of the weirder highlights of Jerry Seinfeld's recent Reddit AMA.

Going Out

Grab a pedestrian and start dancing at What…

As a New Yorker, I’ve mastered the art of focusing my gaze straight ahead. Though it occasionally piques my interest, the absurdities that play out…

U.S. Soccer

Orlando City takes shot at NYCFC over Frank…

Orlando City reminded the world how big a signing Brazilian star Kaka earlier this month with a photo of Kaka mobbed by fans juxtaposed against Lampard.


Jeremy Lin says 'Linsanity' is over as he…

Jeremy Lin lit up the NBA two years ago with his play for the Knicks but he has no desire to recreate "Linsanity" in his new career with the Lakers.


2014 NFL Fantasy Football Top 100 overall player…

2014 NFL Fantasy Football Top 100 overall player rankings

U.S. Soccer

NYCFC announce signing of Frank Lampard

The tease of a big signing Thursday by new MLS side NYCFC ended up being one rumored for weeks. England midfielder Frank Lampard agreed to…


Forget Wi-Fi: Li-Fi could be the future

Li-Fi technology – developed by Mexican company Sisoft – is wireless internet connectivity using specialized LED light.


Weather app Climendo might be the most accurate…

The wait for a truly accurate weather forecast could finally be over thanks to a nifty new app called Climendo.


Napkin Table puts focus off the phone and…

Michael Jan, a design student at Tunghai University in Taiwan, has invented a serviette-picnic blanket hybrid called the Napkin Table.


Essie's new Color Boutique

Essie launches high-tech kiosks at major airports and malls across the country.