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Report: Jennifer Hudson returns to ‘Idol,’ this time as judge

Jennifer Hudson

Jennifer Hudson

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Updated: May 24, 2013 3:15PM

Can an “American Idol” alum breathe new life into the Fox singing competition that’s shedding viewers at an alarming clip?

Fox officials must be hoping so. E! News reports that Jennifer Hudson has signed on as judge for season 13. E! also says the other two judging spots are intended for former “Idol” contestants: Kelly Clarkson and either Adam Lambert or Clay Aiken.

According to E! sources, Clarkson is close to signing on but no word yet on whether Lambert or Aiken will fill the final spot. Producers are expected to keep the panel to three members.

The Oscar-winning actress and Chicago native returned to the stage last week on “Idol,” the show that first put her in the spotlight back in season three. She sang a duet with Candice Glover, the latest contestant to wear the “Idol” crown.

Facing increased competition from NBC’s “The Voice” (not to mention myriad other singing/talent competitions that have cropped up on TV looking for a piece of “Idol’s” success), “Idol” has lost about 10 million viewers in the past two years. It’s still one of television’s most-watched programs, but it no longer is the ratings juggernaut it once was.

E! says the new “superstar-alum” theme is aimed at reclaiming some of that lost viewership.

“It’s ‘Idol’ alums bringing in the next generation,” one Fox source tells E! of the reasoning behind the casting for season 13.

Current judges Nicki Minaj, Mariah Carey, Randy Jackson and Keith Urban will not be returning for next season.

Hudson didn’t win “Idol” but she went on to have one of the most high-profile careers, winning an Academy Award in 2006 for Best Supporting Actress for “Dreamgirls.” She most recently appeared on the ill-fated second season of NBC’s now-canceled series “Smash.”

Fox had no comment on Hudson’s casting.

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