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‘American Idol’ Update: ABC ‘Taking a Lot of Meetings’ With Potential Judges

ABC’s “American Idol” reboot has made headlines for bringing Ryan Seacrest back as host and for bringing on Katy Perry as a very well-paid judge, but the singing competition show still has two judges’ seats to fill before its 2018 debut.

Last month, insiders said Lionel Richie, Charlie Puth, Luke Bryan and Keith Urban were in advanced talks to potentially join Perry on the judges’ panel, and while those names are very much in the mix, Variety has learned the decision has not been made, but ABC is starting to lock down on the judges.

“We don’t have to make any decisions immediately so we’re taking a lot of meetings because you want to get it right,” said ABC’s head of alternative programming, Rob Mills, said in a recent interview with Variety. The network isn’t under pressure just yet  because though auditions start next week, the judges’ auditions don’t begin until October.

When asked specifically about Puth and Richie, Mills responded, “We’re taking a lot of meetings. Some of these meetings have become public,” he said, referring to the media leaks. “To me,’talks’ means there are negotiations going on and I don’t even think we’re there yet with anyone. Really. We’re taking meetings and doing all the different permutations. We really want to make sure we get it right.”

Perry and Seacrest will both be very much part of the decision-making process for the other two judges, Mills explains. “They know everybody and they’ve got opinions,” he says. “Katy and Ryan are going to be instrumental in looking. We want to make sure this really feels like a family.”

Referring to the original “American Idol” panel with Simon Cowell, Randy Jackson and Paula Abdul, Mills notes, “At the end of the day, as great as that original panel of judges was individually, it was also about the chemistry between them — Simon was wonderful, but if he didn’t have Paula or Randy, would he or the show have been as successful? We’ve got Katy and now it’s all about who’s going to be good with Katy.”

Aside from chemistry and star-power, the executive says it’s necessary that all of the judges have a passion to spot talent.

“Ryan and Katy, it is so important to them that we really find another ‘American Idol’ like a Carrie Underwood or Kelly Clarkson or Chris Daugherty or Jennifer Hudson or Adam Lambert or one of these other massive stars,” Mills says. “We all take that really seriously so we want to find judges who are going to compliment that.”

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