‘American Idol’ at home: four weeks, multiple eliminations, celebrity guests & only one live moment

ABC/Gavin BondThis Sunday night, April 26, American Idol will return with new shows, but thanks to social distancing and quarantine, they’ll be unlike any previous season of the show.

According to Variety, Ryan Seacrest will anchor the show from his house, using the original American Idol desk from the show’s run on Fox, which he was keeping in his garage.  The show will be produced live-to-tape, with the 20 contestants sending in their footage for the producers to edit into something manageable. 

Most importantly, there will be only four episodes, which means multiple eliminations each week.  On Sunday’s episode, the top 20 will be cut down to 10.  ABC exec Rob Mills tells Variety that “four weeks is the right amount of time for these people to perform. It’s going to be more cutthroat…there is going to be less room for error. And I think that will make it more exciting.”

All the contestants were sent iPhone cameras and lighting kits, and have been having multiple online meetings with the producers about how to shoot their performances at home, how to do their own wardrobe, make-up and hair, and how to work with the American Idol in-house band and vocal coaches.

Meanwhile, the producers are setting it up so judges Katy Perry, Lionel Richie and Luke Bryan will be able to watch the performances along with the contestants on a split screen.  The only live moment will be the finale, when Ryan announces the winner.

One thing that won’t change, though: Celebrity guests are still planned.

“It’s still Idol,” says executive producer Trish Kinane. “We want it to look and feel like Idol but it will have a different perspective. We want it to look and feel like Idol but it will have a different perspective.”

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