Talks to bring two of American Idol’s biggest stars to NBC’s singing competition series The Voice began well in advance of ABC’s talks to return Idol to the air, NBC reality-TV chief Paul Telegdy insisted Sunday.
“We had been talking to those two [stars] for a long time about joining The Voice,” he said on a phone call with reporters, adding he was confident both artists would confirm that.
Officially unveiling its schedule for next season Sunday, in advance of its presentation to advertisers on Monday, NBC again confirmed Idol stars Jennifer Hudson will be added to The Voice when it returns in the fall for Cycle 13, while Idol first-season winner Kelly Clarkson will join The Voice for Cycle 14.
“We didn’t make the connection between them appearing on the show and ABC returning Idol,” Telegdy said when asked if it was a reax. “We’re excited for them to join The Voice,” he said, noting both stars already have connections to NBC’s program, Hudson having coached the UK version of Voice and Clarkson guesting on NBC’s iteration in seasons past.
Idol franchise owners first approached NBC about returning the long-running Fox hit series, but moved on to ABC. That network announced last week it had closed a deal with FremantleMedia North America and CORE Media Group’s 19 Entertainment for the revival. American Idol will return for the 2017-2018 season, two seasons after the series ended its 15-season run on Fox in April 2016. A host and judges have not been announced.
When reality TV producers go to market “we’re happy to say they come to us first, because we have such a dominant reality competition schedule,” NBC Entertainment chief Bob Greenblatt boasted, in re getting first crack at the Idol reboot.
“We did have conversations about Idol and recognized the franchise is a great name and title,” he said. But, ultimately, NBC passed, he said, because “We decided we have The Voice, we have a couple of music competition shows we’re also down the road developing” and which could be on the schedule as early as next summer. “We did not see the need for Idol” on the schedule, Greenblatt said.
Telegdy chimed in to say: “The audience hasn’t told us there is a compelling reason to bring it back, either.”
Greenblatt declined to take the bait when asked how difficult it will be for ABC to turn a profit on the pricey franchise, saying he did not want to speculate. When the reporter reminded “You know what the cost was, it was brought to you,” Greenblatt insisted they “brought the idea; we did not get out our calculator.” But, he conceded, if it returns to hit status, it would be a “great piece” of scheduling for the broadcast competitor.