The 20th season of “American Idol” will premiere on Sunday, February 27 at 8 p.m. Eastern time on ABC.
Radio and television personality Bobby Bones, who has served as a mentor to the contestants since season 16, will not be returning this year. Rather than replacing Bones, a revolving door of “American Idol” alums will serve as mentors at different points throughout the competition.
“There’s not anyone to replace Bobby per se but this year we will be leaning into our amazing ‘American Idol’ university alum to help our current idols along the way in different stages of the competition,” executive producer Megan Wolfick said at a Television Critics Association press event (via Entertainment Tonight).
“So a lot of those familiar faces who America has grown to love will be seen throughout the season and we’re very, very excited. And our alums are excited to be back,” Wolfick continued.
Which ‘American Idol’ Alums Will Return This Season?
During the Television Critics Association panel, “American Idol” host Ryan Seacrest named some specific alums he’d like to see on the show this season. He mentioned Carrie Underwood, Ruben Studdard, Clay Aiken, and Jennifer Hudson.
“I want to see every one of those contestants come back,” Seacrest said. “I want to see, way back to the beginning. I just remember the moment with Clay and Ruben that we talk about all the time. I want to see Carrie again. I love seeing Jennifer Hudson. For me, I can remember literally standing next to them looking at their faces and their reactions in moments of success and in moments of challenge.”
It’s clear from Seacrest’s remarks that the “American Idol” team is eager to have some of the show’s most famous alums on this season.
Season 20 of ‘American Idol’ Has Another New Twist
In a trailer for season 20, judge Katy Perry reveals a new twist. In addition to the golden tickets to Hollywood that “American Idol” contestants have always received, there is also a special platinum ticket given to only one contestant from each city where auditions are held. Since the judges only went to three cities this year, only three contestants got the special ticket.
“You get to go to Hollywood week but you get a little shortcut cause it’s the 20th year of creating superstars and you’re a superstar,” Perry tells one contestant in the trailer. He then receives the platinum ticket.
Platinum ticketholders get to observe Hollywood week from the audience at the theater for one day. They have an opportunity to size up the competition and choose who they want to duet with.
At the Television Critics Association panel, judge Lionel Richie explained how they decided who to give the platinum tickets to. “It was the fact that they were just naturals, you know what I mean? Some people just walk out and they are stars,” he said. “They have all the boxes ticked: stage presence, delivery, their sound, their style, they have it all there. So when they open their mouths, you know exactly who they are as an artist. It just rings that bell. When that happens you give them the Platinum Ticket as fast as you can.”