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'American Idol' twelfth-season broadcast schedule announced by Fox, season to feature new semifinals format

By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 01/09/2013 

American Idol's twelfth-season changes will extend beyond a new judging panel.

Fox has announced the early season broadcast schedule for American Idol's twelfth season and revealed the upcoming edition will feature a new semifinals format that will include an extended semifinals round and the omission of judges' "Wild Card" finalists.

American Idol's twelfth season -- which will premiere on Wednesday, January 16 at 8PM ET/PT and mark the beginning of the show's regular Wednesday/Thursday broadcast schedule -- will start with six episodes covering last summer's audition tour.

The six audition episodes will feature new judges Mariah Carey, Nicki Minaj and Keith Urban and veteran judge Randy Jackson traveling to Charlotte, Chicago, Long Beach, New Orleans, New York, Oklahoma City, and San Antonio in search of talented contestants.

Then, beginning Wednesday, February 6, Fox will air four additional episodes which will chronicle the competition's Hollywood Round and conclude with the unveiling of the season's Top 40 contestants -- 20 male and 20 female semifinalists -- on Thursday, February 14.

The Las Vegas Round, which was first introduced in the franchise's tenth season, will then start airing on Wednesday, February 20 and continue for three more episodes until the phase ends on Thursday, February 28.

However, unlike its 2012 edition, American Idol's twelfth season will feature the Las Vegas Round as part of the semifinals. The Las Vegas Round will feature 40 semifinalists performing songs in four groups of 10 and the judges eliminating five hopefuls after every performance show. The Las Vegas Round will therefore end with 20 semifinalists moving on.

Once those 20 semifinalists are all revealed, similar to last season, American Idol will air back-to-back live semifinals performance shows -- which will feature the 10 males first and then the 10 females the second night -- on Tuesday, March 5 and Wednesday, March 6 that will be followed by a live results show announcing the season's finalists on Thursday, March 7.

The five male and five female semifinalists who receive the most home viewer votes will automatically advance to Idol's twelfth-season finals. In a departure from last season, the judges will not have the opportunity to each select a "Wild Card" pick to join America's chosen Top 10.   

Last season, the semifinals aired during one week as a single gender-balanced performance round following the Las Vegas Round of auditions. Once America had voted 10 of the 25 semifinalist hopefuls into the finals, Jackson and former Idol judges Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler each made a "Wild Card" selection to remain in the competition -- ultimately determining the season's Top 13 finalists.  

Once the finalists are determined, American Idol's first twelfth-season performance show will then air on Wednesday, March 13 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 entire early twelfth-season broadcast schedule:

- Wednesday, January 16 - Audition Episode

- Thursday, January 17 - Audition Episode

- Wednesday, January 23 - Audition Episode

- Thursday, January 24 - Audition Episode

- Wednesday, January 30 - Audition Episode

- Thursday, January 31 - Audition Episode

- Wednesday, February 6 - Hollywood Round, Part 1

- Thursday, February 7 - Hollywood Round, Part 2

- Wednesday, February 13 - Hollywood Round, Part 3

- Thursday, February 14 - Hollywood Round, Part 4

- Wednesday, February 20 - Las Vegas Top 40 Semifinals Performance Show

- Thursday, February 21 - Las Vegas Top 40 Semifinals Performance Show

- Wednesday, February 27 - Las Vegas Top 40 Semifinals Performance Show

- Thursday, February 28 - Las Vegas Top 40 Semifinals Performance Show

- Tuesday, March 5 - Top 20 Semifinals Performance Show

- Wednesday, March 6 - Top 20 Semifinals Performance Show

- Thursday, March 7 - Top 20 Semifinals Results Show (Finalists announced)

- Wednesday, March 13 - Top 10 Finals Performance Show

- Thursday, March 14 - Top 10 Finals Results Show

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