Katy Perry, Lionel Richie, Luke Bryan and Ryan Seacrest are back together on the American Idol set for the first time since the coronavirus pandemic disrupted Season 3 back in March. The judges and host of the ABC revival of the hit singing competition are all back for a whole new round of auditions, but things will look a little different as they adhere to social distancing and COVID-19 safety guidelines.
Bryan shared the first photo back on set with his co-stars Wednesday, showing that all the judges will be sitting at separate tables instead of behind the same panel to keep a safe distance. "Gang’s all here for [American Idol] season 4 filming!" he captioned the shot. "Things may be a little different, but glad to be back at it."
In addition to separating the judges, ABC announced rigorous safety and health protocols on the set will adhere to state and local requirements as well as union and industry guidelines for production, including regular COVID testing for cast, crew and contestants. Another change to the season will come in the form of location, as the judges will stay put in California, traveling to three in-state locations, and contestants will travel to audition in front of the judges.
Idol was one of the first shows to begin production amid the coronavirus pandemic. "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," Karey Burke, president of ABC Entertainment, said in an August press release. "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."
Perry will be making her return to the Idol stage after welcoming her first child, daughter Daisy Dove, with fiancé Orlando Bloom on Aug. 26. "It's amazing. I'm so grateful for this opportunity and for this job, and to be able to continue to inspire other people to go after their dreams," Perry told Entertainment Tonight of returning to the Idol stage. "I mean, my life just feels very full and whole. And you know, it's hard a little bit these first couple of days away and not being able to be there." American Idol will return in 2021 on ABC.