American Idol producers Fremantlemedia worked aggressively to bring the show back to television after FOX cancelled the show last year. So hard, in fact, Cecile Frot-Coutaz, CEO of production company Fremantlemedia, devoted the entire first quarter of 2017 to finding a new home for the once-mighty reality competition.
In a new interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Frot-Coutaz chats about landing Idol at ABC, bringing Ryan Seacrest back to host and why Katy Perry’s $25 million dollars judges salary is no big deal. Here are the highlights:
- On Ryan Seacrest returning to host the show: “It was always going to happen. It’s hard for Ryan. He’s on the East Coast now and had to figure out how to make it work, but he’s the hardest-working man in show business, so there will be some flying back and forth. But, as I said, it was always going to happen. He’s the face of Idol.”
- But on the other hand: It would be very strange to make American Idol without Ryan, but the danger is to forget that it’s the contestants that make the show. The key factor to a successful season is finding the right contestants.
- Frot-Coutaz claims the show had attracted younger viewers at the end of its run on FOX: When Idol wrapped, we did extensive research. We found that we’d recruited new, much younger viewers. Do you wait five or six years, with the landscape continuing to evolve, and risk losing those followers? In thinking about doing the right thing for the brand and franchise, it felt to us that it was an unfinished story. Even though the show lived on Fox for 15 years, its audience is actually closer to that of ABC or CBS. Hm. Interesting spin, but it’s always about the money. Fremantle financials suffered last year without Idol revenue, as diminished as that revenue became.
- Frot-Coutaz insists that the show is not unusually expensive to produce. In other words, Katy did not break the bank: The show is not more expensive than its competitors in the genre. If other networks can make it work on similar properties, then there’s no reason why ABC couldn’t. This notion that the show [costs] a lot more than any other is completely untrue. We know that because we’ve made other shows in other genres. ABC wouldn’t order something that didn’t work for them financially.
- On hiring Katy Perry to join the judges panel: Katy is in a transition in terms of her own career. It has been shown now what these platforms can do for artists. It has been beneficial to other people, whether it’s on Idol or The Voice. But I think she genuinely cares. She auditioned when she was a guest judge on Idol in 2010 and then on the [U.K.] X-Factor. She’s brilliant.
- Is it possible to cast a singing show without stars on the judges panel? Not really: I would like to think that you can — but because there is a certain bar that has been set, there is now an expectation from the audience that you would have at least one, if not two, stars with a lot of credibility.
- On the conversation with Simon Cowell about possibly returning to Idol, why he turned it down: I’m not going to comment on that. Simon is on NBC on America’s Got Talent, and I think therein lies your answer.
Fremantle also produces America’s Got Talent, which is currently experiencing the best ratings the show has ever had. She attributes AGT’s surging success to two factors: Simon Cowell joining the judges panel and that the Youtube clips “play incredibly well online.”
American Idol will premiere on ABC in Spring 2018. More Idol stuff:
American Idol Auditions Set for Disney Springs, Former Winners to Greet Hopefuls
American Idol will Live Stream Auditions on Musical.ly Starting Aug 2
American Idol: ABC Eyeing Lionel Richie, Luke Bryan, Keith Urban Charlie Puth for Judges Panel