After spending $25 million on a ‘farewell season’ just last year, Fox is not happy with FremantleMedia for bringing American Idol back to the small screen on ABC for the 2017-2018 season.
‘It’s obviously a tough one for us,’ Fox TV Group Chairman Dana Walden said Monday. ‘It feels bad knowing it’s coming back on another network.’
Fox had hoped to bring the singing competition show back to its lineup in 2020, but the production company was keen to get it on the air again in the US much sooner, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
FremantleMedia is bring American Idol back to television screens in the US after just one year off from production and Fox is not happy about it; The revamped show will now air on ABC
‘It felt to us it would be extremely fraudulent to bring the show back quickly, that fans would not appreciate being told one thing and then having the show brought back right away,’ Walden said.
The network made its bid to keep the show it brought to life, even if on hiatus for a few years, but eventually lost out in a contest with ABC and NBC that will have music professional hopefuls competing again within the coming year.
Idol went off the air for Fox in spring of 2016, after seeing a steady decline in ratings near the end of its 15-year run of as many seasons.
‘The last conversation we had with [Fremantle] was about how the ratings had dropped over 70 percent over four years. There was clearly a ratings trend. It was not going in the right direction,’ Walden said.
‘It’s obviously a tough one for us,’ Fox TV Group Chairman Dana Walden said Monday
‘The network was losing an enormous amount of money and we had asked them to make trims. And they felt, as is their right, that they didn’t want to take significant trims, they didn’t want to test out a new panel — they felt like it had taken a long time to find the chemistry they had with [Keith Urban, Jennifer Lopez, and Harry Connick]. They ultimately said to us they would rather rest the show after this season rather than make any changes, and that’s when we decided to call it the farewell season.’
Walden said that Fox and Fremantle had very different points of view on what was right for the future of the show.
‘We tried to engage Fremantle in conversations about bringing it back in 2020 which is when we thought would be an appropriate amount of time off the air, and could give the producers and creators the opportunity to make some changes that could present the next generation of Idol, and they really just weren’t interested in that. They wanted it back on the air and thought ABC was a good opportunity,’ Walden said.
Though Fox was surprised to learn that Fremantle had been in talks over Idol with ABC, it was less of a shock that NBC was brought into the mix.
Simon Cowell has an exclusive relationship with NBC as part of his producing contract with America’s Got Talent, so moving the show there could have potentially brought him back on board.
Though Fox was surprised to learn that Fremantle had been in talks over Idol with ABC, it was less of a shock that NBC was brought into the mix, where Simon Cowell and Ryan Secreast have landed; Seacreat (right) is seen here on the set of the recently renamed LIVE with Kelly and Ryan, alongside co-host Kelly Ripa (left)
Seacrest is seen here on the finale of American Idol’s ‘farewell season’ at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, California on April 7, 2016
Long-time host Ryan Seacrest has also recently landed at NBC, as co-host of the recently renamed LIVE with Kelly and Ryan, alongside Kelly Ripa.
But ultimately NBC decided they didn’t need the show at this time, so ABC won out.
‘We did have conversations with them about Idol. We recognize the franchise is great,’ NBC Entertainment chairman Robert Greenblatt said.
‘We just decided we have [The Voice and] a couple of music competition shows that we’re down the road developing that you may see coming to the schedule as early as next summer. We thought we’re going to stick with our hand.’
Ultimately, Walden acknowledged that American Idol was a large source of income for the production company, so it made sense they would want it back in production as soon as possible.
‘[FremantleMedia parent RTL Group] lost revenue from not having this show on in the US — that’s meaningful when you’re running a public company,’ Walden said.
It was rumored that ABC was after Kelly Clarkson for its version of the judge’s panel, but NBC has already enlisted her, and fellow Idol alum Jennifer Hudson, as coaches for The Voice, which executives said was unrelated to ABC’s acquisition of the show that made them both famous.
We’ve been talking to those two for a long time about joining The Voice,’ NBC’s reality chief Paul Telegdy said.
‘We didn’t make the connection between them appearing on the show and ABC’s return of Idol.’
Absent Clarkson, ABC is now pursuing Katy Perry, who just announced a tour for her new album, Witness, to fill a judge’s role, according to Entertainment Weekly.
ABC is now pursuing Katy Perry, who just announced a tour for her new album, Witness, to fill a judge’s role, according to Entertainment Weekly
Paula Abdul, 54, had only great things to say about the show’s quick return and new placement.
‘I’m so beyond proud to have been there since the inception of it. I think ABC is a great home for Idol. I’m excited for Idol,’ she told E! News.
‘All the way around—ABC, Disney, and the record label it’s a great home for Idol. I’m forever a fan. I’m just finding out the same way as everyone else and it’s very exciting.’
ABC’s upfronts take place this week, where more word may come about its future plans for a revamped American Idol.
Randy Jackson (left), Paula Abdul (2nd from left), and Simon Cowell (right), judges, with Ryan Seacrest, host (2nd from right), are seen here during the season 4 finals of Idol in 2005