With American Idol starting its eighth season next month, some changes are coming to the show that's dominated the TV ratings every Spring since its premiere. The show will bring back a wild card round, expand Hollywood Week to two weeks of shows, and of course have a fourth judge around to shake things up.
Today, Idol's executive producer Ken Warwick hopped on the phone to chat about some of the changes. Here are some highlights of what I learned:
- This year's audition episodes will be cut down a bit, and Hollywood Week will be expanded from two shows to four. "The show was always so good, and there was so much emotion there," Warwick said. He hinted that some auditioners who don't seem like standouts at first will really shine in the Hollywood episodes. He also said the producers will be making an effort to show all of the semifinalists before they're announced.
- Speaking of the semifinalists, there will be 36 of them this time — a full dozen more than usual. The semifinal round will then take three weeks, with one group of 12 contestants performing each night. From each group of 12, three contestants will make it straight through to the finals: the top male singer, the top female singer, and then the next-highest vote-getter, regardless of gender. That's how the first nine finalists will be picked.
- As for the other three, they'll advance through a wild card round, which will work like this: the no. 4 singer from each group of 12 will automatically be put in the wild card group, and the judges will fill out that field with anybody else they want. From that group, the judges will select the final three singers who will move on.
To see what Warwick had to say about this year's judging dynamic and get a full schedule for the early rounds, just read more