With American Idol's judging drama now behind them and national auditions well underway, the only thing left for ABC to do was announce a launch date for their revival of the long-running singing competition. Returning host Ryan Seacrest was kind enough to take care of that for them, announcing this morning on both Live with Kelly and Ryan and social media that the series will return Sunday, March 11, 8:00 pm EST. This version of the series will feature judges Katy Perry, Luke Bryan and Lionel Richie .
Here's a clip of Seacrest's announcement:
The network and producers had trouble finalizing the show's talent roster after signing Perry ($25 million) and Seacrest ($15 million) to deals that consumed 80% of the initial talent budget allotted by ABC. That left producers with the arduous task of trying to secure two names judges at a total cost of less than $10 million.
Richie was said to be a favorite of Perry's to join her at the judges' table, but the singer backed away from negotiations after a low offer from the network. Richie and ABC were finally able to come to terms on an agreement after a search for Richie's replacement saw Charlie Puth, Scooter Braun, Dolly Parton and Common rumored for consideration. Perry, Bryan and Richie were finalized as judges prior to the start of the show's national auditions.
Richie expressed his excitement over the opportunity to work with up-and-coming talent when his signing was originally announced:
"I am very excited to be joining Katy, Luke and Ryan on 'American Idol. As a singer, songwriter and producer, I feel I can bring a great deal of experience to the table. It's going to be so much fun!
I'm excited at the chance to help some deserving artists reach their dreams. To be in a position in my career to help facilitate this along with the other judges is just a complete honor. It's gonna be a blast!"