American Idol kicked off its season 20 judges round in Austin, Texas over the weekend. And just as we reported, the show will hit three cities–Austin, Nashville and Los Angeles. That, according to new Idol showrunner, Megan Michaels Wolflick.
Wolflick, currently with the crew in Austin, shares with Deadline what lies ahead for the veteran singing show as it enters it’s 5th season on ABC and 20th overall. Check out the highlights below.
- The COVID pandemic forced American Idol to scrap the bus tour and go virtual. Now Wolflick says Zoom auditions are here to stay: “Controversial as it may seem, I would never do the bus tour again. It doesn’t matter if we’re out of Covid for 20 years. If you didn’t live within five hours of one of those stops, you might not want to get in the car. [Now], we have people in the broom cupboard of their job singing on a five minute break. I can see people’s house, I can talk to parents, I could never do that on the bus tour. I get so much more out of it, not to mention that I get a really interesting perspective on the youth of today and trends, what posters are on their walls,”
- This year’s talent are more seasoned performers, but the show will continue to emphasize singer-songwriters: “Other shows don’t encourage original songs,” she adds. “This year, we’re seeing people who had never tried out for a show before. I feel very excited about the talent we have. Last year, everyone was a bit of a deer in headlights, either having not performed for a while or never having performed because they’re 15. Now, they’re back in the groove.”
- More singers are auditioning: The total number of registrations and those turning up doubled this season, says Wolflick.
- Wolflick believes production can expand studio audiences after COVID forced a scale back: “The dream is to have an audience back in, an active audience. It felt good [last season], but I missed the people in the mosh pit. If we can get to a place where we can have people in the mosh pit, that atmosphere on the floor, it’s a concert, it’s a gig, that’s our ultimate goal.”
- The show will celebrate 20 years with former contestants: There will be a “wedding gift-inspired platinum-related twist for the coming run and a number of familiar faces returning.” Wolflick says, “With 20 years, we’re going to celebrate what’s come before, while we also celebrate the new talent.”
American Idol season 20 will premiere on ABC in early 2022.