Nearly three years ago, Fox canceled the game-changing competitive singing show American Idol. But for many, its fifteen year run on the network was not enough, and now in 2018, the iconic reality television show is set for its revival season on ABC.
While much is known of its famous hosts and usual set-up, there’s no way to truly tell what changes are set for its “inaugural” season. So we’ve went ahead and rounded up everything we know about the rebooted show thus far — including the set, the cast, and the contestants. Here are all the fast facts to know before its first episode on March 11.
There are three new judges
One of American Idol’s pulls over its lengthy history is the A-list musical icons it’s able to pull as judges. This year’s lineup follows that tradition with pop star Katy Perry, country singer Luke Bryan, and R&B legend Lionel Richie as this year’s judges.
Richie told Billboard that he wasn’t considering the job until they revealed who he would potentially be hosting with: “It was not where I thought I was going and then they called off two magic names, Luke and Katy, and when they said Luke and Katy, I said, “Now that is [interesting].” Since then, Richie has also said, “(it’s) as if we’ve been in school together for the last 40 years… excuse me, I should say 20 years.”
Perry seemingly agrees, referring to the trio as “the dream team” in a Good Morning America interview.
— American Idol (@AmericanIdol) February 9, 2018
The show has a new set
American Idol’s set has always been fairly straight forward, but it seems as though the upcoming season will have somewhat of an aesthetic redesign. The show’s Twitter tweeted a picture of the 2018 season’s set, which includes an added balcony level for the audience, as well as a judging table that seems to either be obscured, or is more off-to-the-side than usual.
— American Idol (@AmericanIdol) February 9, 2018
There will be no more ‘bad’ auditions
In Idol‘s past, some of its most infamous moments came during its audition rounds, with contestants who clearly had no long-term potential on the show auditioning for judges, who were subsequently (and often harshly) denied entry to the next round. Showrunner Trish Kinane said that would no longer be part of the show.
“It doesn’t feel comfortable to put borderline unstable people up on stage and laugh at them,” she said. “I think that people once thought that the judges saw everyone, and now you know there’s a line of producers who screen before them. We want the humor, but we don’t want the exploitation.”
It’s now on ABC
After its cancellation on Fox two years ago, ABC picked up the reality show. Thus far, differences include the aforementioned audition and set changes, but aside from that it’s unclear what other changes might be bubbling under the surface. Fox’s cancellation ended a 15 season run that began in 2002’s inaugural season.
They’re focusing on making lasting breakout stars
Though the original Idol run spun off a handful of major stars like Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood, a decent amount of the show’s reigning champions have since faded out of the industry spotlight as the years passed following theier wins. That is something that returning host Ryan Seacrest said they want to avoid this time out: “What was important to me [about the reboot] was that there were going to be stars on the show that were going to come on to collaborate and take this seriously and give the franchise what it deserves,” he said at the show’s unveiling in January. “The legacy of this franchise is important to me and to its fans.”
— Ryan Seacrest (@RyanSeacrest) January 9, 2018
Country radio host Bobby Bones is joining the cast as a “mentor”
As host of the Bobby Bones Show — which is broadcasted to over 100 radio stations — Bones will join the cast as a “mentor,” offering career advice to the top 24 up-and-comers. His added expertise will include tips on “stage presence, dealing with media, posting on social media, remaining focused and being authentic and original,” according to a USA Today interview. The Nashville-based radio personality said he is “pumped to be a part of it.”
Just so you know it’s official .. here I am in a T-shirt that’s slightly too big for me. Standing next to an American Idol logo! Gets no more official than that . Excited to be joining the show! Thanks @AmericanIdol … pic.twitter.com/npi1AZpZNN
— Bobby Bones (@mrBobbyBones) February 21, 2018
The signature contestant stories will stay
While singing is a huge part of the show, there’s also a lot of character-building that goes into every episode of American Idol. In a few different snippets on Twitter, the show revealed the stories of contestants in the dramatic story-telling feature that longtime fans of the show will be used to.
— American Idol (@AmericanIdol) February 22, 2018
— American Idol (@AmericanIdol) February 14, 2018