An early contender for a spot at theAmerican Idol judges’ table who seemingly fell off the shortlist has re-emerged as a front-runner: New Orleans-born musician/actor Harry Connick, Jr.

With the clock running down before auditions for the next season begin, American Idol producers are frantically trying to lock down the judging panel for the coming season, which already includes returnees Keith Urban and Jennifer Lopez, although the latter has yet to be officially confirmed, while previous frontrunner Dr. Luke was forced to step away due to a conflict of interest between the show and his record label, Sony Music. Former judge Randy Jackson, meanwhile, will be returning, but as a replacement for mentor Jimmy Iovine, who won’t be returning this season.

According to, Connick Jr.’s name has been continually been mentioned whenever Idol goes hunting for a new judge, and this time he may actually be taking the job. “I hear the singer is on a shortlist of candidates for the seat on theIdoljudging table, which became vacant again after a deal with music producer Dr. Luke fell through at the last minute,” writes Deadline’s Nellie Andreeva.

She continues: “Asked in May on The Ellen DeGeneres Show whether he would be interested if asked to become a judge on Idol, Connick Jr. said, ‘Well, yeah, I mean I had a really good time! I had a good time mentoring. Judging is a whole different deal; I don’t know how good I would be at that.’”

However, The Hollywood Reporter claims that Fox is actually kind of lukewarm on the crooner, but he may wind up landing the gig simply because time is running out (taping is scheduled to begin on Tuesday) and the network is reluctant to add another woman to the panel after last season’s Nicki Minaj/Mariah Carey debacle.

If things aren’t sorted out over the Labour Day weekend, it’s expected that taping will have to be delayed.