NEW YORK – “American Idol” judge Jennifer Lopez says that despite this season’s focus on the emotional backstories of contestants, the competition is still all about the singing.

“This will be the standout season for talent,” Lopez said Wednesday.

Lopez, who brings superstar glamour to the new judging panel, said she’s had to fight back the tears when meeting contestants like Chris Medina, whose fiancee suffered traumatic brain injury in a car accident just months before they were to walk down the aisle.

“It’s tough. It’s emotional. But this is the thing about ‘American Idol’ that I love. It’s about people and their dreams and their struggles, and that’s what I think everybody loves about it. You see yourself in these people,” she said backstage after a press conference.

Other heart-wrenching moments include twin Travis Orlando, who took “Idol” cameras on a tour of the Bronx shelter he once called home, and Nashville’s Lauren Alaina, who sang “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing” with judge Steven Tyler, after recounting her cousin’s battle with a brain tumor.

Lopez insisted the personal stories aren’t crowding out the singing.

“I think America — because they’re the ones who vote at the end of the day — you know they go for the talent,” Lopez said. ” … And if it happens to have a story attached to it, it like takes it over the top.”

Sheen says he may return to hit TV show in February

LOS ANGELES – Charlie Sheen wants to get back to work this month on “Two and a Half Men,” a spokesman said Thursday.

The 45-year-old actor remains in rehab but hopes to return to TV’s top-rated comedy by the end of February, publicist Stan Rosenfield said. That’s a “target” projection, Rosenfield said.

The series halted production after Sheen sought treatment for undisclosed reasons following a 911 call and brief stay at a Los Angeles-area hospital last week. According to a tape of the 911 call, Sheen was said to be intoxicated and in pain.

CBS and series producer Warner Bros. Television declined comment on Sheen’s intentions.

Iconic ’70s swimsuit installed at museum

WASHINGTON – The red swimsuit that helped make “Charlie’s Angels” actress Farrah Fawcett a 1970s icon became part of the Smithsonian’s collection Wednesday on what would have been her 64th birthday.

Fawcett’s longtime companion Ryan O’Neal presented the swimsuit and other items to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History in Washington. O’Neal said Fawcett, who died in 2009 after battling cancer for several years, always intended to give the suit to the museum.

“They asked her years ago for the bathing suit,” he said. “So it was always in her plan.”

Fawcett wore the bathing suit for a photo shoot shortly before her debut on “Charlie’s Angels” in 1976. The resulting poster sold millions of copies and became the best-selling poster of all time, according to Smithsonian curator Dwight Bowers. Bowers compared the poster to World War II pinups of Betty Grable and Rita Hayworth, saying it became a symbol of the 1970s era.

Director leaves hospital

WELLINGTON, New Zealand – “The Lord of the Rings” director Sir Peter Jackson has left a New Zealand hospital after surgery for a perforated ulcer.

Publicist Melissa Booth says Jackson was discharged from Wellington Hospital on Thursday and would continue his recuperation at home. He had surgery after being admitted Jan. 26 with acute stomach pain.