October 18, 2002 01:00 PM

They’ll be back: Simon Cowell, Paula Abdul and Randy Jackson are all set to return as judges for the second series of Fox’s “American Idol,” Variety reports.

The trade paper also says that Fox plans to enhance the panel with a fourth judge, who, the network said, would “add a different and unique perspective” to the selection process.

Ryan Seacrest will return to host the next “American Idol,” which heavily suggested that he will be paired with a female host, given that original partner Brian Dunkleman has already announced that he is not returning.

The first series was a major hit for Fox, with the final — in which Texas cocktail waitress Kelly Clarkson took on former salesman Justin Guarini — seen by 22.8 million viewers.

“Idol” will launch its next talent search Monday in Detroit. There will also be auditions in New York, Atlanta, Nashville, Miami and Austin, culminating in the Los Angeles heats on Nov. 17.

Hopefuls at the auditions will be required to sing an unaccompanied song, chosen from a list provided by producers.

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