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'American Idol' producer defends Katy Perry's reported $25 million judging salary -- "She's brilliant"


By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 08/03/2017 

American Idol's reported $25 million salary promised to new judge Katy Perry actually makes perfect sense, according to FremantleMedia North America CEO Cecile Frot-Coutaz.

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The woman behind American Idol's production company defends Perry's paycheck to the ground.

"The show is not more expensive than its competitors in the genre," Frot-Coutaz told The Hollywood Reporter, likely referencing NBC's The Voice.

"If other networks can make it work on similar properties, then there's no reason why ABC couldn't. This notion that the show [costs] a lot more than any other is completely untrue. We know that because we've made other shows in other genres."

The Idol producer added, "ABC wouldn't order something that didn't work for them financially."

Frot-Coutaz, 51, believes American Idol and Perry -- the iconic pop singer behind the hits "I Kissed a Girl" and "California Gurls" -- will both benefit from her participation on the judging panel.

"Katy is in a transition in terms of her own career. It has been shown now what these platforms can do for artists," Frot-Coutaz told The Reporter.

"It has been beneficial to other people, whether it's on Idol or The Voice. But I think she genuinely cares. She auditioned when she was a guest judge on Idol in 2010 and then on the [U.K.] The X Factor. She's brilliant."

Perry is the only official judge on ABC's 2018 revival of American Idol so far, but Idol sources recently told TMZ that show executives are in talks with Lionel Richie, Luke Bryan, Charlie Puth, and Keith Urban as a fallback option to fill the remaining two spots on the panel.

According to Us Weekly, former Idol finalist Chris Daughtry's name was also being tossed around.

Ryan Seacrest is returning as host of the reality singing competition for its upcoming sixteenth season. He told Kelly Ripa on their Live with Kelly and Ryan show last month he's "very, very excited" about the gig, adding that it's "going to be the best time."

"It was always going to happen. It's hard for Ryan. He's on the East Coast now and had to figure out how to make it work, but he's the hardest-working man in show business, so there will be some flying back and forth," Frot-Coutaz said of his return. "But, as I said, it was always going to happen. He's the face of Idol."

Frot-Coutaz declined to comment, however, on why original Idol judge Simon Cowell isn't in the mix. She said the answer has to do with the fact he's currently judging NBC's America's Got Talent.

ABC announced in May the network would be bringing back American Idol, which aired its fifteenth-season finale in 2016 on Fox. In her interview with The Reporter, Frot-Coutaz explained why it seemed like the right time to bring American Idol back only one year after it was canceled.

"When Idol wrapped, we did extensive research. We found that we'd recruited new, much younger viewers. Do you wait five or six years, with the landscape continuing to evolve, and risk losing those followers?" Frot-Coutaz shared.

"In thinking about doing the right thing for the brand and franchise, it felt to us that it was an unfinished story. Even though the show lived on Fox for 15 years, its audience is actually closer to that of ABC or CBS."


Katy Perry/Instagram

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