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.
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.
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.