'American Idol' returning with single semifinals format, judges' picks
By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 01/17/2012
American Idol's eleventh season will be familiar to tenth-season viewers.
Fox has announced the early season broadcast schedule for American Idol's eleventh season and confirmed the upcoming edition will feature the return of many of the changes introduced during last season's Idol shakeup -- including a single semifinals performance round and the judges selecting some of the competition's finalists.
Like its 2011 edition, American Idol's eleventh season will feature a single gender-balanced semifinals performance round which will end with home viewers and returning tenth-season judges Randy Jackson, Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler jointly determining the season's finalists.
American Idol's eleventh season -- which will premiere on Wednesday, January 18 at 8PM ET/PT and mark the beginning of the show's regular Wednesday/Thursday broadcast schedule -- will start with eight episodes covering last summer's audition tour.
After the two-night debut, Fox will air a special American Idol audition episode on Sunday, January 22 at 10PM ET/PT following the network's broadcast of the NFL's NFC Championship game.
The eight audition episodes will feature the judges traveling to Savannah, Aspen, Galveston, Pittsburgh, Portland, San Diego, and St. Louis in search of talented contestants.
Then, beginning Thursday, February 9, Fox will air four additional episodes which will chronicle the competition's Hollywood Round and Las Vegas Round and conclude with the unveiling of the season's top male and female semifinalists on Thursday, February 22.
The Las Vegas Round, which was first introduced last season, will feature the Hollywood Round's remaining contestants traveling to Vegas and performing additional songs and end with the judges narrowing the eleventh-season contestant pool down.
Once the semifinalists are revealed, American Idol will air a pair of back-to-back semifinals performance shows on Tuesday, February 28 and Wednesday, February 29 that will be followed by a live results show which will announce the season's finalists on Thursday, March 1.
The male and female semifinalists who receive the most home viewer votes will automatically advance to Idol's eleventh-season finals, however once they have been announced, the judges will also select an unspecified number of special "Wild Card" picks to round out the finalists, according to Fox.
American Idol's first eleventh-season performance show will then air on Wednesday, March 7 and feature the finalists singing for home viewer votes. One finalist will then be eliminated the following night during the season's first live elimination results show.
The following is American Idol's early eleventh-season broadcast schedule:
- Wednesday, January 18 - Season Premiere, Part 1
- Thursday, January 19 - Season Premiere, Part 2
- Sunday, January 22 - Audition Episode (Special Broadcast at 10PM ET/PT)
- Wednesday, January 25 - Audition Episode
- Thursday, January 26 - Audition Episode
- Wednesday, February 1 - Audition Episode
- Thursday, February 2 - Audition Episode
- Wednesday, February 8 - Audition Episode
- Thursday, February 9 - Hollywood Round, Part 1
- Wednesday, February 15 - Hollywood Round, Part 2
- Thursday, February 16 - Hollywood Round, Part 3
- Wednesday, February 22 - Las Vegas Round
- Thursday, February 23 - Semifinalists Announced
- Tuesday, February 28 - Semifinalists Perform (400th Episode, Special Broadcast)
- Wednesday, February 29 - Semifinalists Perform
- Thursday, March 1 - First Results Show, Finalists Announced and Judges' Wild Card Picks Revealed