American Idol returns to FOX tonight
(CNN) — “American Idol” returns this week with not a single original judge at the table, new possible contestants and some changes to the format.
There was a time when a new season of “Idol” would send fans into a frenzy, especially with the addition of new judges.
This season will see the return of former judge Jennifer Lopez, along with last season’s judge Keith Urban and newcomer Harry Connick Jr. Original judge Randy Jackson will this season serve as a mentor.
The show will be back with heavy competition from NBC’s “The Voice,” which for the first time last year beat “Idol” in the ratings on a Thursday night. But even while the show, which for years has been a juggernaut in the ratings for Fox, has slid in terms of viewers for the past year, it is still a force to be reckoned with in TV land.
“I don’t think ‘The Voice’ is more popular than our show,” “Idol” producer Trish Kinane reportedly said at the recent Television Critics Association winter press tour. “If you look at the ratings, ‘American Idol’ still beat it. But having said that, ‘Idol’ is the gold standard. It is the original format.”
Kinane added that she thought there was room for both shows. In addition to the reboot of judges, the show has also made some other tweeks, The Hollywood Reporter quotes Kinane as saying.
“We made a lot of small changes,” she said. “We didn’t want to do anything radical. We went back and examined every single element of the show, from the talent search to the finale. … It’s still ‘American Idol.’ It’s a million tiny decisions that I think has made for a fresher whole.”
Some are looking to new kid on the block, Connick, to help revitalize the show. The singer told E! News that he will be honest, but kind.
“I watched the show when they were calling people names and making fun of them,” Connick said. “I don’t do that. It’s uncomfortable.”
The reality singing competition has suffered from quite a few complaints from the poor performance of the male contestants last year to the lack of producing chart-topping artists in recent years.
According to a Forbes ranking, Carrie Underwood was the top money-making “Idol” winner last year. The country artist/ “Sound of Music” actress raked in $31 million last year and has pulled in $83 million over the past few years. Kelly Clarkson was second on the list, with earnings of $7 million.
Season 13 of “American Idol” returns Wednesday night on Fox.