It appears that Keith Urban won’t be returning to American Idol as judge when ABC reboots the series next year, according to the country singer.
Keith, who accompanied wife Nicole Kidman to the Toronto International Film Festival for the opening of her film The Upside on Friday, September 8, told Us Weekly, “I think it’s going to be all new people except for Ryan.” Keith was part of the American Idol judges panel from the disastrous season 12 season with Nicki Minaj and Mariah Carey through the show’s 15th and final season on FOX.
Keith had been namechecked as a possible pick for the new panel, but lately, the rumors have focused on Luke Bryan, whom Idol producers have reportedly reached out and made an offer.
So far, only Katy Perry is set a judge. She’s eaten up a substantial amount of the budget with a 25 million salary. And this is amid reports that ABC plans to reduce costs by 10% by the end of the year.
How will they lure high priced talent at budget prices? TMZ reports that producers are having to “get creative and sweeten the deal by offering celebs Disney perks that will turn into a big payday.” Also TMZ is told “the perks include production deals, licensing and merchandising deals for Disney properties … and also theme park partnerships.”
Ryan Seacrest was convinced to return to American Idol as host for a few million dollars less than his $15 million dollar salary at FOX. However, besides his stint as co-host with Kelly Ripa on the popular ABC morning show Live with Kelly and Ryan, Seacrest has signed an overall deal with ABC studios to produce scripted programming.
I’m a little disappointed that Keith won’t be returning to the judges table. His manner was laid back, but he often shared thoughtful insight with the contestants. And he seemed to really care about the contestants. I appreciated his philosophy that authenticity trumped the technically perfect vocal.
American Idol open call auditions wind up on Thursday September 14. ABC should be announcing the full panel soon. Should be is the operative phrase here, I think.