The show must go on, or so they say. In an unprecedented move, American Idol will continue its live performance segment via remote, with contestants appearing live from various different locations. This will offer viewers an interesting spin, to be sure, on what would have otherwise been the part of the broadcast that films in front of a live studio audience on the 'big stage' of American Idol's main studio.
This new format will kick off on Sunday, April 26th, leaving the show's judges - Luke Bryan, Katy Perry, Lionel Richie - and host, Ryan Seacrest, all appearing from their homes. The details of this 'experiment' have yet to be revealed and, may yet not even have been fully worked out. Bobby Bones, the in-house musical mentor will also be working from home.
With all this remote location action, it's unclear how judges and audiences will be able to adequately hear, appreciate and judge the sound - there can be immeasurable differences in the acoustics at different locations, let alone the opportunity for sound equipment (or video remotes) to fail to adequately perform (or perform at all).
This is the third season of the reboot of American Idol under the ABC banner. The show previously enjoyed 15 seasons on Fox before being relaunched at ABC. In the next episode, airing Sunday April 19, the show will air part 2 of its highlight reel commemorative.
So far, this season has seen contestant auditions and a Hawaii performance showcase, all of which were recorded before the crisis set all of the TV (and movie) industry to work frantically reworking and re-planning their projects.
How Idol would continue its season was only one of myriad questions facing TV executives, production crews and audiences, alike, as the crisis upends every last corner of the entertainment industry. Live studio variety and competition shows, to say nothing of romance and housewife dramas, are all exceedingly difficult to execute in the face of social distancing, lockdowns and 'non-essential' workplaces.
Saturday Night Live, last Saturday, pulled off a feat by broadcasting its variety programming from a variety of locations, including Tom Hanks' cold open monologue from what appeared to be his kitchen table. As for what America's Got Talent, The Voice and other such shows will do - we'll have to wait and see.
Perhaps, though, the most hotly anticipated 'live' show will be the Season 12 Real Housewives of Atlanta reunion, which will certainly see a bunch of angry middle-aged housewives yelling at each other across a Zoom conference like the most heated office meeting no one has (yet) ever had? This type of format may create, for its network, Bravo, one of the most talked about season epilogue yet. After all, these post-season bookends are often the most watched and discussed parts of any season. Even Netflix has capitalized, of late, on the draw of reunions, recently airing The Tiger King and I, billed as an "aftershow" to Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem, and Madness.
That an 'aftershow' to such a slow motion trainwreck could upstage the actual series is no small commentary on these capstones, but carrying this out to a live remote location broadcast may just be the way to take it to the next level.
One thing is certain... this crisis is leaving no corner of the entertainment world untouched. This news comes from Variety.