Radio and TV Talk

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

And the final two 'American Idol' judges are...

Posted on Friday, September 29, 2017 by RODNEY HO/ on his AJC Radio & TV Talk blog

After an arduous hunt that felt almost as painful as passing a baseball-sized kidney stone, ABC has reportedly found two "American Idol" judges for the 2018 revamp: R&B and pop legend Lionel Richie and Georgia country superstar Luke Bryan.

TMZ, which has been on this story every excruciating step of the way since Katy Perry was named on the panel four months ago, said Richie will get paid around $10 million while Bryan will pocket $13 million. Perry reportedly will take home a whopping $25 million and Ryan Seacrest as host will make more than $10 million.

The fact Perry's salary leaked out in the spring made it difficult for ABC to negotiate with other stars when it could not afford to pay them comparable salaries. What's worse: the network clearly wanted big names, a search that has become de rigueur for every large reality competition program of its ilk since "The Voice" came out.

Both Richie and Bryan have been in play for quite a long time and it's all coming down to the wire. Judges are set to show up to work for the first time on Tuesday, October 3. TMZ said ABC is set to announce the names as early as later today. (TMZ got it right. The network did. And "Good Morning America" will introduce the trio on Wednesday, October 4.)

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All the early rounds for 2018 "Idol" are finished. A few hundred finalists will be presented before the judges next month.

If the reported dollar amounts are accurate, it seems oddly unjust for 68-year-old Richie to get paid the least out of the three judges considering his five decades in the business. There are so many big songs: "Brick House." "Easy." "Three Times a Lady." "Endless Love." "Lady." "Hello." "Dancing on the Ceiling." "Say You, Say Me." The list goes on and on. He has far more hits than Perry or Bryan, who both broke it big in the mid-2000s.

But Perry and Bryan are current artists and presumably more likely to draw younger viewers ABC desperately seeks.

Among Perry's biggest hits include "I Kissed a Girl," "Hot n Cold," "California Gurls," "E.T.," "Teenage Dream," "Roar" and "Firework." Bryan, who isn't all that well known outside of country circles but is huge inside, has songs such as "Rain is a Good Thing," "Country Girl (Shake It For Me)," "Drunk On You" and "Crash My Party."

But both artists may be seeking a bit of a reboot.

After a run of mostly No. 1 country hits from 2011 to 2015, Bryan's last few songs have not gone No. 1.

And Perry's most recent album "Witness" didn't generate any No. 1 hits either as the singles basically disappointed.



Richie recently ended a tour with Mariah Carey. The man has built a huge following with dozens of hits with the Commodores and solo.

ABC may have considered four judges but budgetarily, three makes the most sense.

About the Author

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

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