Less than two weeks before ABC’s American Idol is slated to start its live performance shows, prep work on them, including rehearsals with the finalists, has been suspended, sources said. Contestants are going home to be with their families amid escalating coronavirus outbreak that has now spread to all 50 states.
The decision by American Idol producer Fremantle was made following Los Angeles County’s new strict guidelines prohibiting large gatherings to slow the spread of COVID-19. Additionally, Fremantle has instituted working remotely as editing on the final pre-taped Idol episodes continues. Because of its scope and number of hours delivered, American Idol has a large producing team and employs a big crew.
The suspension of pre-production raises questions about the performance shows, the first of which is currently slated for Monday, March 30. I hear having an audience already had been ruled out, but, in light of the quickly evolving situation around COVID-19, there will likely need to be additional modifications made for those shows to proceed amid a pandemic. It is conceivable that the producers and ABC could use additional existing footage for an extra episode or two to buy themselves some time while they evaluate the situation and make a final decision whether to proceed with live shows and, if they do, in what shape or form.
NBC and Warner Bros. Alternative TV will have to make a similar decision this spring on The Voice. They have a little more time — the first live show of the singing competition is scheduled for May 4.