Less than two years after its swan song on Fox, American Idol is warming up for a revival on ABC.
The reality singing competition that launched the likes of Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood, Chris Daughtry, and Jennifer Hudson will attempt to carry the spirit that made it a success the first time around with a mix of the familiar (returning host Ryan Seacrest, emotional contestant stories) and the fresh (new judges Katy Perry, Lionel Richie, and Luke Bryan). In the premiere, Bryan boldly declares they are already “peas in a pod.”
While it remains to be seen if the trio strikes chemistry gold à la Paula Abdul, Simon Cowell, and Randy Jackson, they’re off to a promising start in the first two hours, sharing tears, laughs (they’re arguably one of the most spontaneous groups in the show’s 16 seasons), and palpable excitement about their new jobs.
“We have a major responsibility to find real talent — the sound, the look,” Perry says in the March 11 debut, which kicks off in New York City, one of 27 audition stops that drew tens of thousands seeking their shot at stardom.
Entering his 16th season as emcee, Seacrest has seen overseen thousands of those auditions and moderated panels made up of 11 different judges through the years. He tells EW he, Perry, Richie, and Bryan instantly clicked — and he offered his quick take on what each of the new three brings.
“Katy is tough yet fair, and always expresses feedback clearly,” Seacrest says. “Lionel has the experience and knowledge after 40 years in this business and offers realistic and helpful advice to the singers in a delicate and respectful way. I love watching him get really into some of the auditions – he’s the first to rise to his feet and throw his hands in the air when someone’s having a terrific performance.”
“Luke is an equal mix of hilarity and sincerity,” he continues. “He mostly keeps it light, but he really cares about these kids and their success. He’s got tremendous heart.”
Sure, NBC’s The Voice dominates the genre these days, but Richie doesn’t seem too worried. “American Idol is the original and the best,” he says in that first episode. Perry concurs: “We have an abundance of riches, and I’m feeling very confident in American Idol. It’s a show that makes dreams come true. Legit!”
American Idol premieres Sunday, March 11 at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.