ABC renewed American Idol Friday, just a few days before the show's third season on the network wraps up. The next season will be the long-running singing competition's fourth on ABC and 19th overall. However, there is a chance the judge's panel could be shaken up for the first time since ABC revived it as Katy Perry, Lionel Richie and Luke Bryan remain unsigned.
This is the second time ABC has renewed the show without re-signing the judge's panel immediately. When ABC picked up the show for a third season, Perry, Bryan and Richie waited about three months before signing new contracts, reports The Hollywood Reporter. Host Ryan Seacrest, who is also unsigned for Season 4, did not sign on for Season 3 until September 2019, five months after the show was renewed.
The judges' and host's contracts are the most expensive part of the production. Back in March 2018, before ABC's first Idol season debuted, the Wall Street Journal reported that Perry's salary was $25 million for that season alone. Seacrest and Bryan were paid $12 million each for the season. Richie, a living music legend, was paid the least of the three judges, earning $10 million.
Just like every Hollywood production, the coronavirus has left a major impact on American Idol's operations. After two clip shows aired on April 12 and April 19, the show has aired episodes filmed remotely, with the judges contributing comments from their homes and contestants performing with professional recording equipment mailed to them by producers. The Sunday episodes averaged 8.41 million viewers and a 1.5 rating in the 18-49 demographic, both down more than 1% from last season.
The remote shows have also featured guest stars, and the finale will be no different. The producers will include performances from Perry, Bryan, Rascal Flats and Lauren Daigle. Actress Cynthia Erivo will perform a medley of Aretha Franklin songs, as she stars in National Geographic's upcoming Genius: Aretha miniseries. Richie will also lead a new take on "We Are The World" with his fellow judges and the remaining contestants. Past Idol performers, including Phillip Phillips, Kellie Pickler, Fantasia, Scotty McCreery and Jordin Sparks will join in.
Aside from going remote, Perry has been filming this season while pregnant. She and fiance Orlando Bloom are expecting their first child together, which Perry mentioned during last weekend's Mother's Day episode. The couple hoped to get married this summer, but those plans have been put on hold during the coronavirus pandemic.
The last remaining contestants are Julia Gargano, Arthur Gunn, Dillon James, Just Sam, Louis Knight, Francisco Martin and Johnny West. The final episode of the season airs Sunday at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.