With the announcement Wednesday that Katy Perry, Luke Bryan and Lionel Richie would be returning to American Idol for their fourth season as judges on the show's 19th overall year, questions still remain regarding if Bobby Bones will return as a full-time mentor for the contestants moving forward.
In ABC's announcement, the judging lineup was revealed to have remained unchanged from last season, while longtime host Ryan Seacrest was also confirmed to be returning. Bones, however, who acted as an in-house mentor for the contestants for the past two seasons, was not mentioned. Soon after, production sources told TVLine that Idol was "still figuring out logistics for the upcoming season," and there would be news on that front to share "very soon."
Included in the announcement was a hopeful statement about Idol's place in the current world from ABC leadership. "American Idol has always been able to bring people together, entertain and inspire — and I am so proud of how this show continued to deliver joy and laughter into people’s homes during a time when we needed it the most," ABC Entertainment President Karey Burke said in a statement. "There is no one who we feel more confident about leading us into a new season of high notes than Luke, Katy, Lionel and the incomparable Ryan Seacrest."
Added showrunner Trish Kinane, "Katy, Lionel and Luke are fun, astute and really know how to spot talent. Their chemistry is undeniable, and we are delighted that they, along with host Ryan Seacrest, are returning to find the next superstar and take American Idol to new heights next season."
While American Idol was renewed in May, the talent roster remained unconfirmed until Wednesday, making it the second year that the show was renewed before the judges' and host's contracts were signed. In 2018, Seacrest was reported to make about $12 million per season, as was Bryan. Perry was bringing home the highest paycheck at $25 million per season, while Richie was reportedly making $10 million.
Last season, American Idol had to get creative halfway through the run due to the coronavirus pandemic, shifting to virtual performances and judging. Now Idol is conducting virtual auditions across all 50 states, as well as Washington, D.C., for the first time since the show’s start. American Idol will return in spring 2021, but there has been no word on how the format will be affected by safety procedures.