American Idol has returned and it premieres on March 11, 2018 on the ABC network, at 8 p.m. ET/PT. A new cast of judges is on board to take on all the fresh hopefuls, auditioning for a chance to be named the first winner of the Idol reboot. Longtime host of the show, Ryan Seacrest, has returned to the cast and will be guiding the contestants through auditions. On the original American Idol, Brian Dunkleman co-hosted the show with Seacrest, but he was let go and Seacrest took the lead for all the other seasons of the show. According to the Huffington Post, Dunkleman’s exit from the show had unclear circumstances. He explained to the Huff Post, “I talked to three of my old bosses, and they informed me that they had decided that the show would be better served with just one host. And that I was not that host. But I announced I was quitting before they could tell me. So, I didn’t know that [at the time].”
When it comes to the new reboot of the show, former co-host Dunkleman has joked to Huff Post that, “I just hope they air a clip of me, because then I get a check, so I’m excited for that. But I guess I’m really happy for the people who work on the show. That was one of the most fun things when they asked me back for the finale on Fox — I got to see all those people who are still on the show, who were there Season 1, and they’re working again.” Bringing Seacrest back to the show reportedly cost ABC $15 million, as stated by Page Six. While Seacrest is certainly a familiar face, the three judges in the mix this season are also familiar, though they are new to the show. Get to know each of the cast members below.
Katy Perry was the first judge picked for the reboot and her contract came with a hefty paycheck of $25 million, according to Page Six. CEO/President Ben Sherwood is reportedly in charge of the budge and a source told Page Six that, “Ben Sherwood blew the budget on Katy without thinking how that would impact other areas of the show budget. He gambled on her because of her appeal to a younger audience and huge social-media following. But Katy is effectively taking money from the other judges, who then had to be paid way less.” An ABC rep confirmed that each of the pay deals were made within the ABC talent budget.
When the show originally aired, Perry was actually a guest judge on the show and she was often a bit harsh, though very honest. As for today, she has explained her judging style to People as being a “straight shooter.” She stated that, “I’m very cut and dry sometimes. You know it seems a little not soft I do try and watch myself because I do know how it feels to be in their shoes. I was in their shoes ten years ago. I remind myself and I’m reminded and I’m inspired by all of their stories and I know you know it wasn’t an overnight success for me, it’s not going to be for them.”
According to the NY Times, in addition to having this big Idol gig, 68-year-old music icon Richie also has an “All the Hits,” the residency at Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas, Nevada. So, what does Richie bring to the show as a judge? Richie told the NY Times that when he’s giving advice to contestants, this will be his style: “Instead of sitting here moaning about how the world has changed since I started, I’m going to tell them what it takes. You think it’s just singing? No, it’s not. What kind of style do you have? What kind of stamina do you have? How many times can you take ‘No’? How many times can you come back? That’s an artist.”
Idol executive producer, Trish Kinane, told the NY Times that Richie is genuinely happy to change the lives of aspiring musicians through the show.
Recently, Luke Bryan appeared on Live! With Kelly and Ryan to talk about his Idol gig and he revealed that letting contestants down or sending them home is definitely difficult. He also dished that fellow contestant Perry has a snack stash at the judges’ table. She keeps chips and candy to snack on during the auditions and tapings. Both Lionel Richie and Luke Bryan are making considerably lower paychecks for being on the show, compared to Katy Perry, mainly because of the network’s budget. According to Page Six, they are each taking in approximately $7 million.
When it comes to what country singer Luke Bryan hopes to find in this season’s contestants, he says he’s looking for “chill-bump moments.” He explained to ABC News that, “That magic, that twinkle, that charisma. Those moments where… they come in very unassuming… then they start singing and magic starts happening. That’s the main thing — the people that really move our souls and fire us up.”