Harry Connick Jr says Australian Idol ”not an easy job”

''Honesty is paramount.''
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The first time Harry Connick Jr judged Australian singers; things got a bit controversial.

During the Red Faces segment on Hey Hey It’s Saturday: The Reunion in 2009, the American superstar objected to a group of men performing a Jackson 5 tribute in blackface, and host Daryl Somers apologised to him. It made headlines.

”I left the country not long after that show, so I wasn’t really privy to a lot of the comments,” Harry, 55, tells TV WEEK from the US, where he’s on tour.

”But the comments that I did hear, people seemed to be appreciative of being made aware of something that maybe they didn’t know a lot about, because my comments on the show were with regard to the history of minstrelsy in America.

”I’ve never been shy about speaking about something that I think needs to be discussed.”

WATCH NOW: Harry Connick Jr criticises Hey Hey, It’s Saturday over blackface stunt. Article continues after video.

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Harry is set to return to our screens as a judge on the revived Australian Idol, alongside Kyle Sandilands and singers Meghan Trainor and Amy Shark.

It’s too early to know whether Idol will be as controversial as the Hey Hey reunion, but no matter what happens, Harry will be speaking his mind.

”I think honesty is paramount,” he says.

”I enjoy being supportive, and that sometimes means that I say something that may be a little bit painful to hear.”

Harry says being a judge isn’t the same as being a mentor.

”Being a judge is harder for me, because it’s not my personality to critique from afar,” he says.

”I’d much rather interact and have a collaboration. But the job is to be a judge and that means to be honest, to be specific, to be helpful.”

Harry, who has three Grammys to his name, is very familiar with Idol.

He was a judge on the American version from 2014 to 2016, alongside Keith Urban and Jennifer Lopez.

Having filmed the audition episodes last year, Harry was impressed with our talent compared with the US.

”I think that proportionally, the talent was probably as good or better in Australia,” he says.

”I was really pleasantly surprised.”

So how did he get along with polarising fellow judge Kyle?

”Because I was sitting on the far left of the panel and Kyle was on the far right, the person I got to know the best was Amy Shark,” Harry says.

”She’s so smart and insightful and talented – I felt I got a great seat.”

Harry says he was closest to Amy on the judging panel (and no, not just because he sat next to her).

(IMAGE: Supplied)

Harry, travelled Australia for the auditions, visiting not just the major cities, but also the small NSW town of Scone.

Georgia, 26, the eldest of his three daughters with his model wife Jill Goodacre, travelled with him.

”Oh, she’s convinced she’s going to move there, as are my other daughters [Sarah and Charlotte],” Harry says.

”My youngest will be coming down with us in February. Georgia had so much fun.”

Fans were thrilled to hear that Harry would be joining the franchise!

(IMAGE: Supplied)

Harry has also built an impressive career as an actor.

Most famous for his recurring role as Grace’s (Debra Messing) husband Leo in the sitcom Will & Grace (”I felt very lucky to tag along for a few seasons”), he’ll soon be seen on the big screen opposite Mira Sorvino.

”I just finished a romantic comedy called The Islander”, he shares.

”It was really cool to go to Cyprus for a couple of months.”

For the entertainer, the ”most important thing” is that he has variety in what he does.

”Whether it’s being on a film set or doing Idol or touring or Broadway, I just love everything.

”I love the fact that my life permits me to keep pivoting and doing new things.”

Series Premiere Monday, 7:30pm Channel Seven.

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