More on American Idol’s At Home Episodes
ABC will return to airing new American Idol episodes starting Sunday (April 26) and will be the first US competitive reality show to broadcast using remote technology due to coronavirus concerns.In recent interviews, executive producers Trish Kinane and Megan Michaels Wolflick laid out how they will make American Idol history by producing a show streamed from living rooms across the country, shot with iPhones and lighting kits.
Ryan Seacrest Will Use Iconic American Idol Prop on Sunday’s Show
With 45 remote locations across North America including the homes of the Top 20 contestants, judges Luke Bryan, Lionel Richie and Katy Perry; host Ryan Seacrest, mentor Bobby Bones, musicians, backup singers and crew members–it would be impossible to air the shows live. Instead, Idol will shoot the episodes “live to tape” with no multiple takes, no stops and starts.
American Idol Shot Live to Tape, Contestants Get 3 passes, Level Playing Field
In an interview with Yahoo Music, the Kinane and Wolflick added a few more production details.
“[The Top 20 contestants] each get three passes, and the second pass is the audio pass,” Kinane explained to Yahoo music about how they will shoot contestant performances. “The first pass is one where the artist normally just gets into the groove and settles down a bit. The second pass is usually the best audio pass, because they’re in it and they give their best performance. And then the third pass, we’re doing that really more for [edited] visuals. But whatever happens with their audio on that second pass, that’s the one that is used, because it’s exactly the same as if they were on the stage. And if they screw it up, then they screw it up.”
“We sent everyone, all the finalists, the same kit of cameras and lighting and everything, so everyone has an equal playing field to shoot their performances with,” said Wolflick. “And everybody’s getting the same amount of time,” added Kinane. “American Idol was scrupulous about the standards, because this is a competition [which must adhere to the same strict legal guidelines of any network game show]. So, they’ve all got the same equipment, plus they have the same amount of time with our directors and producers.” Additionally, the stylists have been working with the contestants remotely to help them do their own hair and makeup.
American Idol Top 20 will work with Bobby Bones and Kris Poole via “Virtual” rehearsals
There are “virtual” rehearsals with Bobby Bones and music director Kris Poole, Kinane explains: “The band is exactly the same as what we do at CBS, but more difficult because it’s remote. You’ve got a vocal coach in one house, a pianist in another house, Kris in another house, me and Megan in different houses. We will work with the contestants in advance, like we would [under normal circumstances], on their song, their arrangement. The arrangement ideas go back and forth between the vocal coaches, Kris Pooley, and us. Then we work with an arrangement that the kid wants, and Kris does the backing track with the band, like he would with the live band. Those that play guitar or piano, they can either be supplemented with Kris Pooley’s track, or they can play completely on their own — exactly as they would have been allowed to at CBS Studios. And then the other thing is, we still have the backing singers and the band. It’s just they’re not physically there.”
The Top 20 and American Idol judges will interact in real time
And the judges will interact with the contestants “in real time” after each of their performances. “They can hear and see all of it. It’s not all three boxes; we are having a virtual control room where we are,” Wolflick explained. “They’re able to interact. They’re able to see each other, they’re able to hear each other. It’s not canned.”
And while the remaining 4 episodes will be live to tape, Ryan Seacrest will announce the winner LIVE on finale night, May 17. “So while the [competitive] shows are being recorded, because didn’t want to risk a kid’s performance or anything with the internet going down, for the finale we have to go live for the results,” Kinane told Yahoo. “So pray to the internet gods and to all our wonderful engineers that the endeavor works!”
A mad dash to the American Idol 2020 finale
American Idol season 18 run of remote shows being on Sunday April 26, when the Top 20 perform for your votes. On Sunday May 3, the Top 10 will be announced and perform songs with a “Homeward Bound” theme. Eliminations continue apace the following week, May 10, as the field goes from a Top 10 to a Top 5. The remaining singers will sing two songs with Disney & Mother’s Day themes. The finale airs on May 17, which will presumably be a Top 3. Seacrest will announce the winner LIVE at the end of the night.
Katy Perry on Being Pregnant During COVID-19, the New Virtual ‘American Idol’ and More