American Idol Judges Close Deals to Return for Season 18 - What About Ryan Seacrest?

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American Idol is returning to ABC for another season. 

That much was already known, but a dark cloud has been hanging over the series regarding the casting for the 18th season. 

ABC has now confirmed that Luke Bryan, Katy Perry, and Lionel Richie will be returning for the upcoming season. 

American Idol Judges and Host

No details were revealed about whether any of the judges took a reduced pay for the new season. 

With the reduced ratings for the most recent season, there was buzz that ABC was looking to reduce the budget to make the series viable. 

Katy Perry Poses in American Idol Promo Shoot

Perry, in particular, was reportedly getting paid $20 million per season before the reported budget cuts. 

Ominously missing from the cast is Ryan Seacrest, who has been with the former Fox series since the beginning as the host. 

Related: The OA Canceled at Netflix

Whether he is still in negotiations to return, we don't know, but Bobby Bones will be returning as the mentor to the contestants. 

If you keep up to speed with all things American Idol, then you will recall that Bones stepped in for Seacrest as host earlier this year when the latter took the day off work due to being unwell. 

Bobby Bones Smiles - American Idol

Whether this could mean that a permanent hosting gig for Bones could be on the horizon is unclear at this stage. 

“‘American Idol’ is the original music competition series,” said Karey Burke, president, ABC Entertainment.

“It was the first of its kind to take everyday singers and catapult them into superstardom, launching the careers of so many amazing artists. We couldn’t be more excited for Katy, Luke, Lionel and Bobby to continue in their roles as ‘American Idol’ searches for the next great music star, with more live episodes and exciting, new creative elements coming this season.”

Ryan Seacrest Poses - American Idol

“We are delighted to have our judges Katy, Luke and Lionel as well as in-house mentor Bobby back on ‘American Idol,’” said executive producer and showrunner Trish Kinane.

“They are all credible, hugely successful artists and will bring their expertise, passion and energy to the search for America’s next superstar. They have an undeniable chemistry together making for another fun and exciting season!”

Related: American Idol Revived at ABC

“We are thrilled to have all our judges and Bobby returning for a third season of ‘American Idol’ on ABC,” said Eli Holzman, CEO of Industrial Media, the parent company of 19 Entertainment.

Lionel Richie on American Idol

“Our partners at Fremantle and ABC are delivering our fans some of the best Idol seasons ever produced, and Katy, Luke and Lionel are inspiring and molding some of the greatest musical talent this show – or any other for that matter – has ever seen."

"We cannot wait to be introduced to the next crop of stars and we cannot wait to see who will be the next ‘American Idol.’”

Below is the list of upcoming audition dates for American Idol Season 18. 

  • Mobile, AL: TBD Venue (Aug 20) 
  • Tallahassee, FL: Donald L. Tucker Civic Center at Florida State University (Aug 23) 
  • Macon, GA: TBD Venue (Aug 23) 
  • Santa Barbara, CA: TBD Venue (Aug 23) 
  • Baton Rouge, LA: Hilton Baton Rouge Capital Center (Aug 25) 
  • Columbia, SC: TBD Venue (Aug 26) Las Vegas, NV: TBD Venue (Aug 26) 
  • Waco, TX: Waco Convention Center (Aug 27) 
  • Knoxville, TN: Knoxville Convention Center (Aug 29)
  • Salt Lake City, UT: TBD Venue (Aug 29) 
  • Raleigh, NC: TBD Venue (Sep 1) 
  • Colorado Springs, CO: TBD Venue (Sep 1)
  • Washington D.C.: TBD Venue (Sep 4) 
  • Wichita, KS: TBD Venue (Sep 4)
  • San Jose, CA: San Jose Convention Center (Sep 6) 
  • Pittsburgh, PA: TBD Venue (Sep 7) 
  • Springfield, IL: TBD Venue (Sep 7)
  • Spokane, WA: Grand Hotel Davenport, Autograph Collection (Sep 8) 
  • Detroit, MI: TBD Venue (Sep 10) 
  • Nashville, TN: Nashville Municipal Auditorium (Sep 18) 
  • Chicago, IL: Wintrust Arena (Sep 21)

American Idol returns in 2020. 

Paul Dailly is the Associate Editor for TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter.

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