‘American Idol’ Judges, Showrunner, Host: Who’s in for the Revival?

Katy Perry Carrie Underwood Ryan Seacrest

ABC will make its upfront presentation to advertisers Tuesday at Lincoln Center — and attendees will be expecting an update on the network’s biggest new show, the revival of “American Idol.”

Sources tell Variety that a deal with Ryan Seacrest to return as series host is near completion, and that Trish Kinane is set to return as showrunner. Kinane will executive produce the revival with FremantleMedia North America. It is unclear whether Seacrest or Kinane will be in attendance at Tuesday’s upfront. But if a deal with Seacrest can be wrapped quickly, he would be a likely candidate to make an appearance at the presentation.

Variety has also learned that “Idol” alum Carrie Underwood has held talks with ABC and producers about joining “American Idol” as a judge. In addition, Adam Lambert’s name has been in the mix for a potential role, sources confirm. Reports out of the U.K. claim Coldplay frontman Chris Martin has also been approached for a judge spot, but a representative for the singer tells Variety there’s “absolutely no truth to this.” Ditto, it seems, for reports that Chris Daughtry is coming aboard the panel. An insider says the Season 5 graduate has not been contacted as of yet.


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Daughtry is, however, on ABC’s wish list of “Idol” alums to potentially perform at Tuesday’s upfront. Lambert, Kellie Pickler, and Fantasia Barrino are also being considered for the presentation gig.

Whoever does end up named judge would potentially sit beside Katy Perry, who is in active discussions to join the show.

Underwood would provide a direct link to the 15-season legacy of the original “American Idol” run on Fox. The singer won the fourth season of “Idol” and is arguably its most distinguished alum. She has won seven Grammy Awards and is regarded as one of the country music’s most successful contemporary artists.

Season-one “Idol” champion Kelly Clarkson had been approached about joining the revived series as a judge, but instead signed on as a coach for the 14th season of rival NBC’s “The Voice” next year.


Ryan Seacrest American Idol

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Kinane, an executive at FremantleMedia — which produces “Idol” with Core Media Group — was a longtime executive producer on “American Idol” during its later seasons on Fox. Speaking with Variety last year, she predicted that the show would revive after its so-called “farewell season” on Fox, where it aired from 2002 to 2016. “I have no idea what’s going to happen in future, but it’s a classic format,” Kinane said. “I don’t think this is the end for ‘Idol’ forever, but in the immediate future, this is the farewell.”

ABC last week confirmed that it had reached a deal to air a 16th season of “American Idol.” Sources say that the series is set to premiere in March, and that the network has committed to airing at least 40 hours of “Idol” this season. News of the ABC revival prompted immediate speculation that Seacrest, who was announced this month as Kelly Ripa’s new co-host on ABC syndicated morning show “Live,” would return to host the new “Idol.” But it is unclear how Seacrest would balance “Idol” with his other broadcasting responsibilities, including “Live,” which shoots in New York. ABC and producers are believed to have ruled out shooting competition episodes of “Idol” in New York to accommodate Seacrest.

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    1. I watch from the uk and i say get carrie underwood on as a judge and bring back paula or randy!!!!!

    2. Bev says:

      I’ve watched American Idol since the 1st Season.
      I would love Carrie Underwood to be a judge. If Katy Perry is a judge, you will lose a lot of viewers that don’t agree with her lack of integrity & bias political views. That includes me !

    3. Nancy Swilling says:

      I would like to see Keith urban back on American Idol

    4. Willy Eddie Parker says:

      Only real singers should judge the standard of others on this type of show. Kate Perry is basically a successful mime artist, so should not even be considered. Fantasia has a wonderful personality, being humble, funny, warm and considerate, plus she is a great, great singer, so I feel she would be an excellent choice. She also has great chemistry with Ryan Seacrest, who has stated, along with Cowell, that she was the ‘best’ contestant that ever appeared during the previous American Idol series.

    5. Susie says:

      Adam Lambert! He won the Voice in Australia.

    6. gary says:

      Just hope they don’t bring back that scrawny, no personality Daughtry. Get someone a little more exciting.

    7. AmandaSue2 says:

      Wow, back already? I THOUGHT it was CANCELED. People wait less time for their favorite TV series to return, or a movie to be released…are producers sure the public is “longing” for its return? It’s as if, it’s never been off the air. There’s such a thing as overexposure. Ryan Seacrest may be pushing it, before people simply tune him out. Singing and dancing competitions – my gawd, the air waves are saturated with them. How many more can we expect to be interested in? Just the promos alone are exhausting.

    8. rocky-o says:

      alice cooper…

    9. Cheryl Berman says:

      Id like to see Justin Bieber, John Legend, Kanye West and Katie Perr! Those 4 would be great

    10. Brenda mimtz says:

      Bring back Steven Tyler as a judge.Steven Tyler.Steven Tyler and Keith Urban

    11. punkfunk13 says:

      It would fun to see Lambert as a judge, he did an excellent job as a judge/mentor on X Factor Australia. His pick Isaiah won and one of his others picks Amalia got 4th place. Lol He’s pretty good at it :p

    12. David says:

      No, No, No to Adam Lambert who had already been previously rejected twice. Ratings took a nose dive when he was a judge on X-Factor Australia and the show was cancelled.

    13. MalA says:

      Adam Lambert is one of those who is even a better singer live than on recording. Probably why he and Queen have been selling out stadiums for the past 3 or 4 years.

    14. Monte says:

      is it going to be a popularity contest or an actual singing competition? Hey, crazy idea, how about SINGERS actual talented no-auto tuned SINGERS as judges?? just a thought.

      • these shows are always about the judges ones they often hire are only there to promote themselves and their music. KP autotune CU just no. Chris D good singer. Adam Lambert has everything and experience in judging and mentoring.

        • EW says:

          With Katy Perry and Chris Daughtry highly touted, there probably won’t be a place for Adam Lambert. The panel will need some diversity – either a Country singer or R&B.

        • Carrie Underwood is a true talent, an excellent singer and a major star. She would be a definite yes. Kellie​ Pickler is also a good singer and has an infectious personality that would make for an entertaining panel member. Adam Lambert did some judging during try outs in the final season and was quite articulate and impressive. His personality would also make for an entertaining panel member.

    15. ned says:

      Kara DioGuardi

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