A Fox executive has criticized American Idol producer FremantleMedia for bringing back the show so quickly after Fox’s Farewell Season in 2016.
ABC announced last week that it had secured the rights to bring back the show only one year after the “farewell season.”
“Yes it feels bad knowing it’s coming back on another network,” Fox Television Group chairman Dana Walden told reporters Monday during a conference call. “It’s obviously a tough one for us. We loved American Idol.”
“It’s so connected to the Fox brand. It was associated with a tremendous amount of success for everyone involved for 15 years,” she said.
Walden noted that Fox bid for the show’s return along with ABC and NBC. But Fox wanted to wait longer before bringing the show back in 2020 ideally and the network wanted to make some creative changes to freshen up the show.
Walden claims that FremantleMedia initially wanted to keep the format and talent unchanged but then agreed to bench the title for a few years and eventually decided to bring American Idol back as soon as possible.
“They were determined to get this show back on the air as quickly as possible,” Walden said. “We spent about $25 million sending a clear message that it was the farewell season. It felt to us it would be extremely fraudulent to bring the show back quickly, that fans would not appreciate being told one thing and then having the show brought back right away.”
Walden detailed the network’s conversation with the producer.
“We and Fremantle had very different points of view,” she said. “The last conversation we had with them was about how the ratings had dropped over 70 per cent over four years. There was clearly a ratings trend. It was not going in the right direction. The network was losing an enormous amount of money and we had asked them to make trims.”
“And they felt, as is their right, that they didn’t want to take significant trims, they didn’t want to test out a new panel — they felt like it had taken a long time to find the chemistry they had with [Keith Urban, Jennifer Lopez, and Harry Connick Jr.],” Walden revealed. “They ultimately said to us they would rather rest the show after this season rather than make any changes, and that’s when we decided to call it the farewell season.”
ABC is expected to launch its version of American Idol next year.
“ABC’s passion and enthusiasm make them a perfect home for American Idol. We are excited to be partnering with them to discover the next generation of talented artists,” Cecile Frot-Coutaz, CEO of FremantleMedia Group, said in a statement when the revival was announced. “It’s an irresistible combination that means now is the ideal time to welcome back one of the most successful shows in the history of contemporary television.”
— American Idol (@AmericanIdol) May 9, 2017
ABC will revive American Idol after it has spent only one year off the air.