American Idol returns with an all-new episode on both Sunday and Monday nights this week, but due to the coronavirus pandemic, new episodes of the popular reality competition show will soon come to an abrupt halt. On March 19, American Idol, which is produced by Fremantle North America an 19 Entertainment, announced they were shutting down rehearsals.
While this move will obviously postpone the much anticipated live shows until further notice, this isn’t the end of the world for Season 18. There is both good news and bad news for American Idol staff, contestants, and at-home viewers. The good news is that there a few more weeks of all-new episodes featuring their Hollywood Week auditions and the Semi-Final rounds, all of which were pre-taped back in Fall 2019.
As of now, viewers can expect host Ryan Seacrest, and the show’s all-star judges Katy Perry, Lionel Richie, and Luke Bryan to be back on TV offering up their critiques on the performances of this season’s top contestants at some point. The question of when exactly that will happen remains unknown. But it seems highly unlikely ABC will permanently pull the plug on filming the rest of the competition series.
In the meantime, producers had no choice but to shut down rehearsals and send all their contestants home to be with their family during these uncertain times — especially, because the live audience episodes of Idol are taped at CBS Television City, located in West Hollywood, California. On Thursday, March 19, California Governor Gavin Newsom announced that the entire state, which has a population of nearly 40 million people, would promptly be under a strict “Safer at Home” order to flatten the curve of the exponentially rising number of patients being infected COVID-19.
As of March 22, in the state of California alone, according to The Los Angeles Times, there were 1,536 confirmed cases of coronavirus and a death toll of 28. Unfortunately, due to the lack of available testing, those numbers are likely much higher in actuality.
Coronavirus Will Not Effect New Episodes of ‘American Idol’ Until April
On Sunday, April 12, the Finals Live Coast to Coast episodes are scheduled to kick off. What’s really exciting about these live two-hour episodes is ABC airs them live on the East Coast at 8 p.m. ET and West Coast at 5 p.m. PT. What’s worrisome about these episodes, they are taped in front of a live audience in Hollywood, in front of a packed theatre, with a large crew working both in front and behind the scenes.
It wouldn’t be surprising if the reality competition edits together a few bonus episodes featuring never-seen-before content from the previous episodes in order to fill their reserved time slots. While this could account for two new additional episodes, it will also buy the show more time to make a final decision as to what’s to come, how and when.
Numerous ABC Shows Have Already Halted Production, Including ‘The Bachelorette’
The threat of COVID-19 is being taken very seriously by Hollywood, numerous shows, both scripted and reality have halted production. ABC series such as Grey’s Anatomy and the network’s reality show juggernaut, The Bachelorette, have postponed filming, as did their late-night series, Jimmy Kimmel Live!. ABC’s soap opera General Hospital shut down on March 16.