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Harry Connick Jr. Returning to "American Idol" Next Season

Image courtesy of Credit: James Minchin III (via ABC News Radio)
Image courtesy of Credit: James Minchin III (via ABC News Radio)

He can't speak for Jennifer Lopez or Keith Urban , but Harry Connick Jr. will be back behind the judges' table for American Idol season 14.

Speaking to ABC News Radio, Harry said, "I will be [returning], yeah. We just finished our negotiations and so I'm looking forward to coming back."

During his first season as a judge, Harry's been dubbed "Harsh Harry" for his tough and technical critiques, but generally, the contestants have all said that they appreciate him giving them specific, actionable things they can work on to better their performances.

However, Harry's popularity with the contestants, and with the audience, hasn't translated into great ratings for the aging show.  A top Fox exec has revealed tentative plans to cut the show back to once a week next year, after the audition rounds are over.  What does Harry think of that plan?  He feels it's not his concern.

" Idol's been on the air 13 years --I think it's averaging 12 million viewers this year, so they're doing something right,"  Harry tells ABC News Radio. "That's not my business!  They hired me to be a judge, I'm a judge.  Whatever they think they need to do to keep the show fresh and interesting, I'm sure they have a pretty good grip on that."

Harry reveals that his presence on the show this season has boosted his public profile with a specific group of viewers who really weren't aware of his resume beforehand: young people.  "A lot of them didn't really know me for music," says the sometime actor, who's appeared in numerous TV shows and hit movies.  "So I think Idol has introduced me to a generation of people who didn't fully comprehend what I do."

"It's been great because it's hard to look at the guy that was in Dolphin Tale up on a panel and hear him give music critique and not raise your eyebrows when you're a 14-year-old boy, y'know what I mean?" Connick continues. " But when you get to know, 'Oh, wait, he's a piano player, he's a musician, he's been around for...' then it's like, 'Oh, OK, I get it!" 

The American Idol finale airs next week.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio