ABC is full steam ahead on its revival of American Idol, and as more details about the show emerge, it becomes clearer and clearer how much stake the network is putting in this idea. If the new American Idol flops, it's going to be very, very bad news for ABC.
The Wall Street Journal just released some of the financial information about the show, including the judges' salaries. Katy Perry, easily the most hypeworthy judge on the panel, is making a staggering $25 million for the season, just short of the $30 million paid to Simon Cowell, a much larger draw for viewers due to his abrasive judging style during the show's heyday. Country star Luke Bryan is reportedly being paid $12 million, while Lionel Richie is set to receive $10 million for the season.
Basically, ABC is betting big bucks audiences are ready for a revival of American Idol, even though it's been fewer than two years since the so-called final episode aired on Fox. And while Idol was massively successful in its early years, by the time Fox canceled it at 15 seasons, it was losing money for the network. In short, this is a risky investment and a very bold move by ABC.
Plus, there are the rumors of sexual misconduct that have been plaguing host Ryan Seacrest in recent weeks. While the allegations made against him have failed to pick up as much steam as those that toppled the careers of Harvey Weinstein, Brett Ratner, Kevin Spacey and other powerful men, Seacrest felt the backlash at Sunday's Oscars, when many A-listers refused to stop to answer his questions for E! on the red carpet. Will the questions surrounding his career affect Idol's viewership? The network has the option to cut Seacrest loose and hire a new host for the new show, but an ABC exec who spoke to The Wall Street Journal said the network is standing by Seacrest.
The revival of American Idol is set to premiere March 11, and we'll probably start to get some answers then. Until then, though, we can't help but wonder: What is ABC thinking?
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