Show shifts to Nokia Theater

“American Idol” is packing its bags.

Shifting away from the Kodak Theater in Hollywood, “Idol” will broadcast its final two shows this season from the Nokia Theater in downtown L.A.

The hourlong May 20 broadcast on Fox will feature the remaining two contestants while the two-hour show the following night will reunite the fallen singers and crown a champ.

Move is part of a new three-year deal that expires in 2010 between producer FremantleMedia North America and the Nokia.

“It’s a very nice fit for us,” said Lee Zeidman, senior VP and general manager of the Nokia. “It’s the type of big-production show that’s part of our programming mix.”

Zeidman also said the Nokia’s existing relationship with FremantleMedia — the two have worked on several concerts together — helped seal the deal.

“We started talking to them and, if you watch the show, you can see it’s a big set,” he added. “They talked to us about our capabilities — our stage, infrastructure and technology — and fell in love with it.”

Venue, which opened last fall as part of the Anschutz Entertainment Group’s L.A. Live complex, can hold more than 7,000 attendees — nearly double the Kodak’s capacity.

“Idol” move is just the latest in TV’s trek downtown. The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences just announced that the Emmys will move to the Nokia (Daily Variety, March 11) later this summer as part of a 10-year deal.

Much of the L.A. Live site is still under construction; a Ritz-Carlton Hotel and several restaurants are scheduled to open in 2010.

“Idol” has held its finale at the Kodak since 2002, when Kelly Clarkson defeated Justin Guarini during the first season of the show.

FremantleMedia North America wouldn’t comment on the move other than to say that it was motivated by the Nokia’s larger seating capacity, but Nokia g.m. Zeidman concurred.

“The popularity of the show gives them a bigger opportunity to take care of friends, family, sponsors and affiliates,” he said.

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