‘American Idol’ FOX announces new schedule/format

Senior Television Writer


It’s FOX’s day at the Television Critics Association winter press tour, where the most-anticipated event will be the “American Idol” panel featuring new judges Steven Tyler and Jennifer Lopez. But FOX began the morning by providing some more details on how this 10th season of “Idol” will play out.

The series is moving to a Wednesday/Thursday air pattern, and there will be a two-hour premiere on Wednesday, January 19 (NY/NJ auditions) and then a one-hour show (New Orleans auditions) on Thursday the 20th.

We get three more weeks of auditions after that, before moving onto the Hollywood round starting on Wednesday, Feb. 16. The week after that offers the first new wrinkle, where the contestants who survived Hollywood will go to Las Vegas to perform Beatles songs on the stage of Cirque du Soleil’s “Love” on the Feb. 23rd show. Then on the Feb. 24th show, the judges will reveal 20 semifinalists – 10 men, 10 women – who will then compete on Tuesday, March 1 (the show’s brief return to its own night) and Wednesday, March 2. The top 5 men and top 5 women will advance to the finals on a results show on Thursday, March 3, along with a yet-to-be-numbered group of Wild Card picks from the judges.

So for all the rumblings that the show might do away with the gender split, it looks like we’ll have relative balance, give or take the number and composition of the Wild Cards. But returning producer Nigel Lythgoe will have accomplished his goal of streamlining the semi-final round, which he had complained about out in interviews last year.

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