‘American Idol’: ABC Talent Contest Teases Alums To Replace Bobby Bones, Aims For Studio Audience

American Idol isn’t planning to replace mentor Bobby Bones directly and will instead lean on a number of alums of the talent contest.

Bones revealed last week earlier this year that he would not be starring in season 20 of the ABC as a result of a conflict with another show.

Instead, showrunner and exec producer Megan Michaels Wolflick said, “There’s not anyone to replace Bobby per se, but this year we will be leaning into our amazing American Idol universe alum to help our current Idols along the way in different stages of the competition. Lots of those familiar faces America has grown to love will be seen throughout the season and we’re really excited to give back.”

It comes as the network launched a trailer for the show’s 20th anniversary, which features clips from American Idol stars of the past including Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood and Adam Lambert.

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Host Ryan Seacrest added, “In terms of the contestants, I want to see everyone of them come back, way back from the beginning. I remember a moment with Clay and Ruben, I want to see Carrie again, I love seeing Jennifer Hudson. I can remember standing next to them looking at their faces and reactions in moment s of success and challenge.”

Judges Luke Bryan, Katy Perry and Lionel Richie return alongside Seacrest with the show premiering for its fifth season on ABC on Sunday February 27.

It comes after Michaels Wolflick told Deadline last year that the show was able to travel a bit further than it did last season with gigs in Austin, Texas, Nashville, Tennessee and the Sunset Strip in LA for the show’s auditions portion.

The hope is for this year to bring back an audience for the live portions, as it was able to do towards the end of last season. Michaels Wolflick said, “Last year, we were able to have a safe, minimal, masked audience, whereas before we were Idol at home. It is of course our goal to have the fans back in the studio because that’s what makes the atmosphere. Having had this be our third year in the pandemic, we are ready to pivot on a dime at a moment’s notice, ready to be innovative to make this show move forward in 2022. It is our aspiration at this moment to going  back to as many fans as possible in that studio, being completely safe with LA County.”

American Idol is produced by Fremantle and Industrial Media’s 19 Entertainment. Executive producers include Megan Wolflick, also serving as showrunner, and Fremantle’s Jennifer Mullin and Trish Kinane, with Eli Holzman and Aaron Saidman serving as executive producers for 19 Entertainment.

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