Radio and TV Talk

Rodney Ho covers TV and radio, from Atlanta’s stations to the hottest “American Idol" news.

'American Idol' notes: Katy Perry as judge on ABC; Jennifer Hudson, Kelly Clarkson on 'The Voice,' Katharine McPhee

This was posted Wednesday, May 17, 2017 from Rodney Ho on his AJC Radio & TV Talk blog

So did anything interesting happen while I was on vacation? Just kidding. Yes, I left for Costa Rica right before ABC officially nabbed the 2018 revival "Idol" and rival "The Voice" decided to "coincidentally" hire Jennifer Hudson and Kelly Clarkson as judges.  I have been calling this weekly column "Life After 'American Idol.' " I guess that is no longer relevant so I'm going to just start dubbing it 'American Idol" notes. 

Where to begin?

Let's start with ABC, the network that is in fourth place among the four big broadcast networks for the second straight year. They have struggled to find a buzzworthy new hit lately and their existing shows like "Modern Family," "Dancing With the Stars" and "Grey's Anatomy" are aging. So why not revive a show that was already long past its prime when Fox took it off the air in 2016?

Okay, I'm being uber sarcastic. The truth is "American Idol" is coming back in 10 months and we have desperation to thank, not necessarily consumer need. "The Voice" remains the dominant music reality competition show of its kind on TV now and even its ratings have been steadily slipping. There does not appear to be a massive desire for two shows in 2017, much less 2018. That's partly why Fox dropped it. It's an expensive show and Fox had fewer slots to fill than ABC, CBS or NBC. Technically, "Idol" ratings in its final season (about 11 million) were not terrible compared to most TV shows, but they were less than a third of the show during its peak fifth season.

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As for the show's 2016 departure after 15 seasons, most of us here on this blog were sad to see it go but accepting of its relative obsolescence. Returning producer Nigel Lythgoe gave fans a lovely farewell last year and I teared up a couple of times. The show's legacy will always be with us no matter what iterations appear down the road. (Think "I Love Lucy" vs. the three "Lucy" shows that came after it.)

ABC and production company Fremantle/Core will try to find ways to draw new viewers. But how? There is so much good TV out there and so many other distractions.

But I'm committed to covering the show in 2018 as I did before. I'm loyal like that. I hope some of you will join me here on recap nights and make snarky comments because that's the best part of doing this!


Adam Lambert would be a a great pick to judge on the "Idol" revival in 2018. (Photo by Theo Wargo/for New York Fashion Week: The Shows)

ABC as of this week has signed on one judge and it's clear that they feel a need for big stars. That's been the way "Idol" has operated since "The Voice" arrived. So Katy Perry is in! She strikes me as a relatable, likable person with a genuine track record over the past 10 years on the pop charts. So I'd say she's a good pick.

The network has not signed anybody else yet, including a host. Can Ryan Seacrest work it out? Maybe??

Obviously, "The Voice" purposely tied up two of the biggest "Idol" names out there in Clarkson and Hudson. ABC I'm sure is peeved and NBC is thrilled by this little poaching activity. Hudson will be a coach this fall for season 13. Clarkson will be on in the spring for season 14. No doubt"Idol" would love to have at least one former contestant on its panel.

The best one in my mind remaining is Adam Lambert. He already did "The X Factor" in Australia and guest judged on "Idol." He is clearly very good and a big enough name to satisfy the bosses.

There are some rumors Chris Daughtry has been approached. He would be less exciting than Lambert but probably workable. Who else might work? Of the 170-plus singers who have performed on the show, only a handful are truly household names. Clay Aiken certainly would be fun, honest and funny. Carrie Underwood is a lovely woman and very successful but judging is probably not her strong suit. Phillip Phillips is not known for his gift of gab. Jordin Sparks has the chipper personality to do it in a Paula Abdul sort of way. Fantasia would be interesting wildcard. Taylor Hicks could provide some sage advice and a sparkle in his eye (and he created a minor kerfuffle by saying only winners should be judges, which would preclude both Hudson and Daughtry.). Ruben Studdard may be too laid back for that type of job.


Katharine McPhee with David Foster... back in 2006. Getty Images.

Katharine McPhee, who stars in CBS's 'Scorpion," was seen snuggling with legendary music producer David Foster, fostering rumors of a romance.

E! posted a story about this a few days back. The pair were seen being romantic at a restaurant last Friday.

Foster divorced "Real Housewives of Beverly Hills" star Yolanda Hadid a couple years ago.  He has written dozens of hit songs for the likes of Celine Dion, Chicago and Earth, Wind & Fire. Among his big ones: "After the Love Has Gone," "Glory of Love," "St. Elmo's Fire," "Hard to Say I'm Sorry," "I Have Nothing," "Through the Fire" and "You're the Inspiration."


About the Author

Rodney Ho covers radio and television for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

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