ABC Reality Chief Dishes American Idol Reboot Details

The Hollywood reporter sat down for a wide ranging interview with ABC reality chief, Robert Mills. The main topic of conversation was, of course, the network’s American Idol reboot set for Spring 2018.

How did the Idol Deal Come Together?

I have an incredibly close relationship with the people at Fremantle — especially [North America co-CEO] Jen Mullin. She called, maybe in January, but it sounded like there was going to be a bidding war. We sort of let it go, and it played itself out in the press. Randomly, on vacation, Ben ran into an agent who represents [Idol co-owner] CORE. By then, it was on moratorium with Fox and NBC, so Ben talked to Channing and me. Sometimes you have to look at something from a different angle to get really excited.

How did you pitch it to the producers?

Ben is looking at it not just from an ABC standpoint, but a Disney one. Our idea for Fremantle was to put Idol on in the spring, use the Oscars as a platform and launch it as this big return, around the same time it used to air. It was about showing them all of our platforms: We can have auditions in the parks; we can amplify, not just at ABC, but with Disney Channel and Freeform. There’s a couple of different scenarios about the nights it will air — and, of course, there’s the Ryan Seacrest of it all.

What’s the latest there?

There has been some very early reaching out. He really wants to be as good as he was on it before, while now giving his all to Kelly & Ryan. I think he can do both; he thinks he can do both, but he’s giving it some serious thought.

Can the show make money, or do you see it as a loss leader?

What you can’t do is come back as bargain-basement Idol. We’re going to make sure the talent is right, and we’ll do what we have to [do to] make it bigger and better than ever. We want to use it as an asset base to launch scripted programming, like it did on Fox. If it returns at the levels it left, it’s going to do really well for us.

Oh boy. He’s hoping the show returns to the same ratings level as it left on FOX? First, ratings have been falling year to year on the broadcast networks. Also, FOX spent a ton of money mounting a major farewell extravaganza to send off the show. Folks who had stopped watching came back to see their favorites “return home.” There will probably be some curiosity eyeballs initially, but it’s going to be a challenge to keep the numbers up. I hope it works! Because I love the show.

Also, about Dancing with the Stars, Mills said:

Who is your ultimate get for Dancing With the Stars?

Sarah Ferguson, the Duchess [of York]. She’d be great. Now the get of gets is Richard Simmons. He’s somebody I’d just love to hug. This is his formal offer. I hope he reads it. Come on, Richard. You have carte blanche.

Mills also chatted a bit about The Bachelor franchise: Why it took so long to cast a black lead and also finally acknowledging that contestants had sex on the show. GASP.

About mj santilli 33186 Articles
Founder and editor of, home of the awesomest fan community on the net. I love cheesy singing shows of all kinds, whether reality or scripted. I adore American Idol, but also love The Voice, Glee, X Factor and more!