‘American Idol’ On ABC: Past Finalists Eyed For Judges’ Table?

American Idol is set to return to TV, this time on ABC, and it sounds like the reboot will offer a fresh take on the long-running Fox talent competition. Variety reported that ABC is near a deal with American Idol’s producers, FremantleMedia, to bring the show onto the network’s schedule starting next March. The popular show would be dropped into a struggling ABC timeslot on Sunday nights.

According to TMZ, original Idol judge Simon Cowell definitely won’t be in the ABC version due to his exclusive contract with NBC and America’s Got Talent, but longtime host Ryan Seacrest could make a return to American Idol if he can juggle his insanely busy schedule. Seacrest was just announced as the new co-host on the daily morning chatfest Live with Kelly Ripa, which airs live from New York. Idol has traditionally been filmed in Los Angeles.

If this season 1 #TBT doesn't bring you joy, we don't know what will! ????????????

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A source told People Seacrest is not yet in talks for the American Idol hosting gig, but his he “may well be open to it … in the right capacity and if it fit in with his other commitments.”

“His plate is obviously pretty full already — his priority is Live With Kelly and Ryan, he has big commitments to iHeartRadio daily and the syndicated radio show,” the source revealed.

“That said, Ryan has a lot of affection for Idol given the significance to his career, and it taps into the things he loves — a live show, pop music, discovering new talent, etc.”

TMZ reported that ABC hoped to move American Idol to New York City so Ryan could host it, but Fremantle wants to keep the show in L.A. Freemantle also wants the longtime Idol host to return to the show, so the Sunday night time slot could make it work if Ryan is ready to commit to some serious commuting. The plan would involve Seacrest staying in NYC during most of the work week and pre-tape Friday’s episode of Live on Thursdays. He would then head to Los Angeles to prep for the weekend American Idol show, then return to New York after the live Sunday night episode. The plan would also require Seacrest to commute back to L.A. to do the Idol results show if there is one.

Seacrest does plan to commute back and forth between coasts, but Ripa told reporters that Seacrest’s Live gig has been a decade in the making, and couldn’t happen because he was “so ensconced” with his other job (American Idol) and living in Los Angeles. Suffice it to say, Kelly would probably be pretty unhappy if Seacrest signed on to the American Idol reboot on the heels of joining Live. But hey, if he’s not available, maybe Brian Dunkelman is.

While Ryan is a big (but important) question mark, there’s also buzz surrounding potential judges for the show. Cowell is out, but former American Idol musical director Michael Orland told Variety he’d love to see some other familiar faces on the reboot.

American Idol was, and still is, the biggest and best of all of the entertainment competition shows,” Orland told Variety. “It also produced so many people that came out of the show that still continue to make an incredible living as a result of their exposure on the show.”

Orland says that some of that talented alums from the series should be considered prime candidates for the coveted judges’ panel.

“I say, do a reboot and get some of these past Idol performers and not just winners to come sit in the judges’ chairs,” he said. “I think there’s more than a handful that would be really great at it.”

#TBT to these iconic judges!

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American Idol Season 4 contestant Constantine Maroulis agreed that involving former contestants would be “a huge bonus and a great way to win audiences back [and] make the show about the contestants again.”

“So many great careers and so many stories have come from American Idol. It would be compelling to see contestants from varying backgrounds and genres, all who have Idol in common,” he told Variety.

American Idol aired for a whopping 15 seasons on Fox, signing off in May 2016 after years as television’s top-rated show. While The Voice got the attention of Emmy voters, Idol produced bona fide singing stars, including Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood, and Adam Lambert. But viewers became frustrated after the original judges’ lineup of Cowell, Paula Abdul and Randy Jackson split up. Short timer judges like Ellen DeGeneres, Kara Dio Guardi, Mariah Carey, and Nicki Minaj didn’t have the chemistry that the original cast had.

Take a look at the video below for more on the roots of the original American Idol.

[Featured Image by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images]