By Cindy Elavsky
Q: Can you tell me when “American Idol” will be back? I’m so excited that Jennifer Lopez has returned for this next season. — Kendra W., via email
A: The singing competition that started it all returns for its 13th season on Fox beginning Wednesday, Jan. 15, at 8/7c. Along with Jennifer Lopez, Keith Urban returns to lend his expertise to the judging panel. Ryan Seacrest will continue to be our fearless host, and Harry Connick Jr. upgrades his season 12 mentor status to becoming a season 13 judge. Former judge Randy Jackson will return for a few episodes as an in-house mentor.
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Q: I can’t wait to see Sting and Paul Simon touring together this spring — Sting has always been one of my favorite artists. Until then, do you know of anything that can tide me over? — Nina T., Omaha, Neb.
A: Well, Nina, I’m sure you already know that Sting’s most recent album, “The Last Ship,” was released in September 2013. But did you know that on Feb. 21 at 9 p.m. ET on PBS, you can catch Sting on Thirteen’s “Great Performances”? The concert was filmed this past year on Sting’s birthday (Oct. 2) at a special fan-club performance during a 10-night run of benefit concerts where Sting performed songs from his new album. A friend’s husband was fortunate enough to attend this event, so I can tell you with certainty it’s a concert that should not be missed.
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Q: It seems like forever since “Vikings” ended its first season. When will it be back? — Danny J., via email
A: “Vikings” will return for a 10-episode second season on the History Channel in February, and you can count on plenty more drama, gore, sex and political intrigue. According to “Vikings” creator Michael Hirst: “The first episode of the new season will be absolutely gobsmacking. There are huge dangers at the personal level (for Ragnar). Certain things are resolved in conflict and certain things continue. The scale will be bigger. He’s gone into business now with a king. So, he can raid with bigger parties. He can be more ambitious.
“There is going to be a new big, big character who is the King of Wessex. Wessex is a much larger kingdom than Northumbria, with a much more powerful king and also a cleverer king, a king who spent half of his young life at the court of Emperor Charlemagne. Ragnar is going to be up against a very formidable foe in the King of Wessex.”
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Q: I need my “Portlandia”! — Susanna Y., Chicago
A: On Thursday, Feb. 27, at 10 p.m. ET/PT, you’ll get your “Portlandia”! IFC’s original hit comedy returns for its fourth season with 10 all-new episodes. Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein play host to a number of fun guest stars this go-round, including Ed Begley Jr., Steve Buscemi, Kirsten Dunst, Jeff Goldblum, k.d. lang, Kyle MacLachlan, Jason Sudeikis and Olivia Wilde.
Write to Cindy at King Features Weekly Service, P.O. Box 536475, Orlando, FL 32853-6475; or e-mail her at [email protected]
© 2013 King Features Synd., Inc.