‘American Idol’ revival: How bringing back the show will affect reality TV

May 9, 2017

by Carla Hay

ABC is reviving “American Idol,” which will return in the 2017-2018 season, according to an announcement made by the network.  A press release states that ABC has “closed an agreement with producers FremantleMedia North America and 19 Entertainment, a division of CORE Media Group … A host and judges will be announced at a later time.”

The original incarnation of the singing contest “American Idol” was televised on Fox from 2002 to 2016. During 2003 to 2006, “American Idol” was the highest-rated TV show in the United States, garnering an average of 27 million viewers per episode when the show was at its peak. “American Idol” was responsible for making several of its participants world-famous, including original judge Simon Cowell, host Ryan Seacrest and former “American Idol” winners Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood. Other former “Idol” contestants who went on to great success include Jennifer Hudson, Adam Lambert, Jordin Sparks, Chris Daughtry and Fantasia Barrino. Fox ended the show due to declining ratings and high production costs.

During “American Idol’s” original run, ABC tried and failed several times to have its own hit music-based talent contest by offering forgettable flops such as “Rising Star” (2014), “Duets” (2012) and “The Next Great American Band” (2007). Fox also attempted to duplicate the success of “Idol” with the U.S. version of “The X Factor,” which lasted from 2011 to 2013 before it was cancelled because of disappointing ratings.

In 2011, the singing contest “The Voice” premiered on NBC, and became an immediate hit with viewers and critics.  While “Idol” faltered and “The X Factor” faded away, “The Voice” became the highest-rated singing talent contest in the United States, although “The Voice” could never have the blockbuster ratings that “American Idol” had in its heyday. There were some reports that NBC was in talks to bring “American Idol” to the network, but in the end, it looks like NBC didn’t want to make the same mistake that Fox did with “The X Factor,” by having two major singing contests on the same network.

The original stars of “American Idol,” pictured clockwise from left: judge Simon Cowell, host Ryan Seacrest, judge Randy Jackson and judge Paula Abdul, (Photo courtesy of Fox)

Seacrest has publicly stated that he wants to host “American Idol” again. He recently signed on to host the New York-based “Live” daytime weekday talk show with Kelly Ripa, so it’s unknown how he could work Los Angeles-based “American Idol” into his schedule. “Live” is distributed by ABC, and Seacrest has a long relationship with ABC; he also hosts ABC’s “Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve.”

Cowell is unlikely to return to “Idol” since he’s under contract to be a judge and executive producer on NBC’s “America’s Got Talent.” Other past “American Idol judges include Paula Adbul, Randy Jackson, Kara DioGuardi, Ellen DeGeneres, Steven Tyler, Jennifer Lopez, Nicki Minaj, Mariah Carey, Keith Urban and Harry Connick Jr.

“The Voice” has invested in getting major current hitmakers to sit on the judges’ panel, including Adam Levine (lead singer of Maroon 5), Blake Shelton, Gwen Stefani, Pharrell Williams, Christina Aguilera, Shakira, Alicia Keys, Miley Cyrus and Cee-Lo Green. The right group of judges who are still relevant in the music industry has been the key to the success of “The Voice,” which has won multiple Emmys, so it will be interesting to see if the new “American Idol” will copy that same strategy.

“The Voice” has a winning formula so far, and it is unlikely to change that formula because “American Idol” is being revived. What will likely change are some familiar aspects of “American Idol” in order to distinguish it from the Fox version of the show. It remains to be seen if ABC’s “American Idol” will surpass the ratings of “Dancing With the Stars,” which is currently ABC’s highest-rated reality show.

May 16, 2017 UPDATE:

Katy Perry at the 59th Annual Grammy Awards at the Staples Center in Los Angeles on February 12, 2017. (Photo by Phil McCarten/CBS)

ABC has officially announced that Katy Perry will be a judge on the rebooted “American Idol.” Perry issued this statement: “I am honored and thrilled to be the first judge bringing back the ‘American Idol’ tradition of making dreams come true for incredible talents with authentic personalities and real stories. I’m always listening to new music, and love discovering diamonds in the rough – from mentoring young artists on my label, or highlighting new artists on my tours, I want to bring it back to the music.”

JULY 20, 2017 UPDATE:

Ryan Seacrest
Ryan Seacrest at the 89th Annual Academy Awards at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles on February 26, 2017. (Photo by Mike Baker/©A.M.P.A.S.)

As expected, ABC has announced that Ryan Seacrest will return to host “American Idol.”

Here is the press release:

A household name from his decades on radio and television as an award-winning host and producer, Ryan Seacrest is confirmed to host the beloved music competition series “American Idol” for its first season on ABC. Kelly Ripa announced it today on “Live with Kelly and Ryan.” Seacrest had a long run with “Idol,” having served as host for the franchise since its inception in 2002.
Since first stepping onto the iconic “Idol” stage, Seacrest has become a fixture in pop culture and media, most recently signing on as co-host and an executive producer of Disney|ABC’s top-rated, nationally syndicated “Live with Kelly and Ryan,” which he will continue to host from New York.  Seacrest also hosts and executive produces ABC’s annual live show, “Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve with Ryan Seacrest.”

Seacrest will also continue hosting and executive producing “On Air with Ryan Seacrest,” his market-topping No. 1 nationally syndicated L.A. morning drive-time radio show for iHeartMedia’s 102.7 KIIS-FM, as well as a nationally syndicated Top 40 radio show from his iHeart studio at New York’s ABC7, home of “Live.”Now, with “American Idol” at its new home, Seacrest will help reinvigorate the series that pioneered a new genre of television, staying true to the heart of the show by sharing inspiring stories and turning dreams into reality.

“It’s genuinely hard to put into words what ‘American Idol’ means to me,” said Seacrest. “I’m so grateful for the show and all the career and life opportunities it’s allowed me to experience. It’s been an incredible journey from day one. To be asked to return this year, at my new home at Disney|ABC, is an honor, if not a bit surreal. I believe ABC is the perfect home for ‘Idol,’ and I’ve every confidence the show’s legions of fans will love it – especially ‘Idol’’s best traditions of showcasing heartwarming stories, remarkable talent discovery, and, best of all, making dreams come true.”

“We are thrilled to be ushering in this new era of ‘American Idol’ with Ryan at the helm,” said Channing Dungey, president, ABC Entertainment. “So much of ‘American Idol’’s overwhelming success can be attributed to Ryan, whose larger-than-life personality and laudable dedication to creating quality entertainment has made him a true master of his craft. His talent is limitless, and I can’t think of a more appropriate person to honor the ‘Idol’ legacy as it takes on new life than the man who has been there through it all.”

Trish Kinane, president of Entertainment Programming, FremantleMedia North America, executive producer and showrunner of American Idol, said, “American Idol is back and already on the road searching to find the next generation of superstars. Idol has always been about the contestants and the music, and we couldn’t be more excited to start this next chapter – first with the incredibly talented new judge, Katy Perry, and now our own series icon, Ryan Seacrest. We’re delighted that he’s joining us and ABC as we set out to uncover the amazing talent America has to offer.”

“‘Idol’ wouldn’t be ‘Idol’ without Ryan,” said Core Media Group CEO Peter Hurwitz. “He is a natural who has been there from the start, shines on live television and has dominated in every one of his professional endeavors. The show’s millions of devoted fans will be delighted to welcome him back to center stage on ABC.”

The nationwide search for the next superstar kicks off on Thursday, August 17, as the Idol Bus tour jumps into gear across America, offering hopefuls the chance to audition for a shot at superstardom.  Please visit www.americanidol.com for more details on specific audition locations, full eligibility requirements, submission forms, terms and conditions.

“American Idol” is produced by FremantleMedia North America and 19 Entertainment, a division of CORE Media Group. Executive producers include FremantleMedia North America’s Trish Kinane and Jennifer Mullin along with co-executive producer, Megan Wolflick. FremantleMedia International distributes the series worldwide.