Nearly three weeks after ABC confirmed that it would bring “American Idol” back to television, the singing competition has a high-profile anchor for its judges table, but no other confirmed talent on board.
ABC and producers FremantleMedia and Core Media locked up pop star Katy Perry as a judge for the upcoming season just in time for an announcement at the network’s upfront presentation. Perry’s services were secured at a rate of $25 million for the upcoming season — which sources tell Variety represents 65% of the budget earmarked for talent. No additional judges have since signed on to the show.
Nor have producers and the network been able to seal a deal with Ryan Seacrest to return as host. Seacrest had been in talks to rejoin the series — which he appeared on for all of its 15 seasons on Fox — since before ABC even made the revival official. But ongoing talks have failed to produce a deal. A return to”Idol” would present significant logistical challenges, as Seacrest has relocated to New York for his new gig as host of ABC’s syndicated daytime show “Live With Kelly and Ryan.” “Idol” has traditionally shot in Los Angeles, and a move to New York to accommodate Seacrest is unlikely given the increased production costs involved.
A source close to Seacrest told Variety that the longtime “Idol” host “wants to make sure the show has the team and plan to deliver on its promise as it has for 15 seasons” before signing on.
Seacrest was reportedly made an initial offer of $10 million to return to “Idol.” Perry, in an interview this week with New York’s WKTU, appeared to confirm her $25 million “Idol” payday, saying, “I’m really proud that, as a woman, I got paid, and you know why? I got paid like more than like pretty much any guy that’s been on that show.”
Perry’s $25 million salary places her among television’s highest paid stars — well above the $13-15 million per season that Miley Cyrus and Blake Shelton earn as coaches on NBC’s “The Voice.” ABC moved quickly to lock up Perry after “American Idol” season one champion Kelly Clarkson, who had been in talks to return to the show as a judge, signed on to “The Voice” as a coach for season 14.
ABC representatives did not immediately respond to a request for comment.