American Idol revived on another TV network

From left: Former judges of American Idol Randy Jackson, Paula Abdul, Simon Cowell and host Ryan Seacrest at the American Idol Grand Finale in Hollywood, California, last year.
From left: Former judges of American Idol Randy Jackson, Paula Abdul, Simon Cowell and host Ryan Seacrest at the American Idol Grand Finale in Hollywood, California, last year.PHOTO: REUTERS

WASHINGTON • Fox executives have some complicated feelings about American Idol - specifically, the recently announced rebooted version of the longrunning singing competition which will air on ABC next season.

After 15 seasons on Fox, the series wrapped up in May last year. On a conference call on Monday, in which Fox unveiled its new autumn schedule, Fox Television Group chief executive Dana Walden said it "feels bad" knowing that the show - particularly an iconic one that is so connected to the Fox brand - is being revived on another network.

Although Fox executives talked with producers from FremantleMedia about bringing the series back, she said, ultimately, they felt it did not make sense to revive a show after they spent US$25 million (S$34.9 million) promoting the "farewell season".

"It felt... it would be extremely fraudulent to bring the show back quickly, that our fans would not appreciate being told one thing and then have the show brought back right away," she said. "We and Fremantle just had very different points of view."

Ms Walden said that after the show's ratings dropped 70 per cent over four seasons ("the network was losing an enormous amount of money"), they met Fremantle producers to make some trims or test out a new panel of judges.

However, she said, Fremantle did not want to start the arduous process of trying to find new judges and were happy with the trio of Jennifer Lopez, Harry Connick Jr and Keith Urban - and decided they would "rest" the show rather than make significant changes.

But after the series finale aired, she said, Fremantle was "determined to get this show back on the air as quickly as possible". Fremantle's parent company announced it lost revenue after the cancellation of Idol.

While Fox kicked the idea around, executives proposed possibly bringing the series back in 2020, an "appropriate" amount of time off the air. Fremantle was not interested in waiting, she said, and thought a new home on ABC was a good opportunity.

Meanwhile, Fox hopes to make an impact this autumn with several new shows, including The Gifted, the network's first Marvel series, which chronicles an everyday suburban couple who discover their children have mutant superpowers.

Futuristic sci-fi drama The Orville, a live-action passion project from Fox's beloved animated creator Seth MacFarlane, stars MacFarlane as a commanding officer on a space ship.

And comedy Ghosted, airing on Sunday night after The Simpsons, features Craig Robinson (The Office) and Adam Scott (Parks And Recreation) as a detective and a genius, respectively, who have to save the world from aliens.

As for Fox's recently rebooted shows, 24 and Prison Break, neither is technically cancelled, but the network does not have any current plans to bring them back.

Ryan Murphy's horror anthology Scream Queens, which lasted two seasons, is officially done. But do not feel sorry for the uber-producer - in midseason, Fox will debut a new Murphy drama called 9-1-1, about the lives and careers of first responders.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 17, 2017, with the headline 'American Idol revived on another TV network'. Subscribe