American Idol issued a press release yesterday, finally putting to rest the rampant speculation over what changes the producers had made for the early stages of the show. There had been leaks about the show doing away with a Top 24, adding a wild card pick, and ending gender parity of the contestants. Now we know how the producers plan to get us to the voting rounds. We also have the TV schedule for the audition, Hollywood and semifinalist rounds.
According to the press release, there will be 20 semifinalists -- ten guys and ten girls -- who will compete for your vote. The top five in each group will move on, with the judges allowed to added an as-yet-unstated number of wild card picks, which will consitute the finalists. The season opens with the New York and New Jersey auditions next Wednesday, January 19, and the finalists will be announced on the Thursday, March 3rd episode.
Here’s the official press release:
American Idol is set to return for its tenth season with new judges, new talent and new surprises along the way. This season’s judges – Randy Jackson, Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler – are a triple-threat of credibility, chemistry and talent. Jimmy Iovine, chairman of Interscope Geffen A&M Records, whose career as a music producer and record executive is unparalleled, will serve as the in-house mentor. Hosted by Ryan Seacrest, the two-night season premiere kicks off with auditions from New York / New Jersey on Wednesday, Jan. 19 (8:00-10:00 PM ET/PT) and New Orleans on Thursday, Jan. 20 (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX.
After the two-night premiere, auditions will continue for three weeks on Wednesdays and Thursdays beginning at 8:00 PM ET/PT.
American Idol auditions continue in Hollywood on Wednesday, Feb. 16 (8:00-10:00 PM ET/PT) and Thursday, Feb. 17 (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT) with the hopefuls who received tickets to Hollywood from the judges. The contestants who make it through Hollywood will then head to Las Vegas for the first time ever to perform Beatles songs on the Cirque du Soleil LOVE stage Wednesday, Feb. 23 (8:00-10:00 PM ET/PT). The auditions will conclude on Thursday, Feb. 24 (8:00-10:00 PM ET/PT) when the judges reveal – in an exciting new twist – 20 semifinalists (10 guys and 10 girls).
The semifinalists compete on Tuesday, March 1 and Wednesday, March 2 (8:00-9:30 PM ET/PT). The five male and five female contestants with the most votes will be the first to join this season’s finalists. The judges’ will also make their special “Wild Card” picks rounding out the finalists on Thursday, March 3 (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT).
And here is this seasons schedule:
Wednesday, Jan. 19 - Season Premiere, Part 1 – New York / New Jersey Audition Episode
Thursday, Jan. 20 - Season Premiere, Part 2 – New Orleans Audition Episode
Wednesday, Jan. 26 – Audition Episode
Thursday, Jan. 27 – Audition Episode
Wednesday, Feb. 2 – Audition Episode
Thursday, Feb. 3 – Audition Episode
Wednesday, Feb. 9 – Audition Episode
Thursday, Feb. 10 – Audition Episode
Wednesday, Feb. 16 – Hollywood Round, Part 1
Thursday, Feb. 17 – Hollywood Round, Part 2
Wednesday, Feb. 23 – Las Vegas Round
Thursday, Feb. 24 – Top 20 Semifinalists Announced
Tuesday, March 1 – Semifinalists Perform
Wednesday, March 2 – Semifinalists Perform
Thursday, March 3 First Results Show and Finalists Announced