What you need to know about the return of 'American Idol'
Like a lover you just can't quit, "American Idol" is back this Sunday, probably long before you've had a chance to really miss it.
In the ABC iteration -- born because Fox wanted to take a break but "Idol" producer FremantleMedia thought it best to move on -- there is a new panel of judges, a familiar goal and another reason to talk about Ryan Seacrest this week.
In case you've been living on a remote island with forgotten "Idol" contests of days past, here's what you should know about the show's return.
Who are the judges?
Though there may be some disagreement on the rankings of the judging panels that followed, anyone who's ever watched "American Idol" will agree that the original Simon Cowell-Randy Jackson-Paula Abdul combination was the best and most effective. Producers of the revamped "Idol" have said they didn't try to replicate that, but "wanted to get it right."
"We wanted judges with credibility, who knew what they were talking about, were huge successes in their own right, who were articulate and who generally cared about the contestants," executive producer Trish Kinane told reporters in January. "That's the difference."
The result was a three-person panel -- Katy Perry, Lionel Richie and Luke Bryant.
It's not worth trying to make comparisons because there are none. When "Idol" began, Abdul was the most recognizable name among the judges, and even she was years past her peak awareness in pop culture at the time.
If anything, "Idol" took more cues from the approach favored by "The Voice" -- fill your seats with as many recognizable names as possible.
Are they REALLY going to find the next Kelly Clarkson/Carrie Underwood?
Well, they're going to try. But by all indications, they're aware that the last few seasons of "American Idol" didn't exactly produce memorable names.
In fact, in January, the panelists were asked by a reporter to name the winner of any recent season and came up empty.
Perry laughed off the shortcoming: "I can't [name someone], because this is the first season of "American Idol."
She later added: "Literally, we are wasting our time if we do not find a star....You know, America doesn't need another star. They need, like, a real legit American Idol."
Will it be awkward with Ryan Seacrest out there?
As usual, the first episodes of "American Idol" will revolve around the auditions, so those have been pretaped.
Moreover, following an uneventful night on the Oscars red carpet, Seacrest, who has been accused of sexual misconduct, has been operating business as usual in the days that have followed.
Seacrest has repeatedly denied the accusation against him, and "Idol" producers have spoken in his defense.
FremantleMedia CEO Cecile Frot-Coutaz told The Hollywood Reporter: "I've known Ryan now for almost 16 years. I stand by him."
"American Idol" returns March 11.
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