Less than two years after Fox canceled the long-running, one-time mega-hit (high price, low ratings), the grandaddy of truth singing contests is again on ABC.
Ryan Seacrest, already in the Disney family on Live with Kelly and Ryan, is back as host. And for the show’s 16th season, there’s an all-new lineup of judges from a number of music styles: Pop singer Katy Perry, country’s Luke Bryan and R&B crooner Lionel Richie.
Seacrest told the Television Critics Association Monday that it’s basically the same show that profits March 11, airing Sundays and Mondays, with new faces at the judges’ table.
Katy Perry is one of three new judges in the rebirth
“American Idol and I have always circled each other, and it just hasn’t been the right timing,” Perry said, expressing a want to coach, not dis (a not-subtle knock at Simon Cowell, whom she later called her favorite judge). “No one’s here to say ‘(you) suck,’ or anything negative … It’s about finding an Idol, providing that dream to life once again.”
Bryan says it simply “was feeling like it would be a blast to be always a part of.”
And Richie says contestants are looking for mentors as he did, to Marvin Gaye or Stevie Marvel, just “with no millions of people” observing. “We’ve never done this before; we have a learning curve” in crafting reactions to performers, both bad and the good.
Executive designer Trish Kinane said “we weren’t looking for another Simon Cowell, another Randy (Jackson),” but says Perry has been blunt, if not mean, in her assessments. She also says Idol will continue its move from putting “borderline, unpredictable people to laugh at them. We want the laughter, but we don’t want the exploitation.”
ABC is making a large, expensive gamble on the show — Perry’s salary only has been generally reported at $25 million — to help jumpstart its third-place primetime lineup.
But the big question remains: Can Idol mint celebrities like Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood as it once does? Perry dreams so, even while NBC’s rival The Tone considers an optional side effect. “Literally, were losing our time if we do not find another legend,” Perry says. “Americans desire a real legit American Idol.”