The long wait (for both viewers and ratings-starved Fox executives alike) is nearly over. Fox has announced that the fourth edition of its top-ranked American Idol series will return with a special two-hour premiere on Tuesday, January 18 at 8PM ET/PT.

Idol's all-new quest to discover America's most talented singer took it to seven cities this summer, and footage from its Cleveland, St. Louis, Washington, DC, New Orleans, Orlando, Las Vegas and San Francisco open auditions will be featured in the two-hour premiere and Idol's next five one-hour Tuesday and Wednesday evening broadcasts.

Then, beginning Tuesday, February 8 at 8PM ET/PT, the first of four hour-long semifinals episodes will air. Following the semifinals broadcasts, American Idol's month-long audition broadcasts will end and the series will finally air its first performance show of the new season on Tuesday, February 22.

American Idol host Ryan Seacrest and judges, Paula Abdul, Simon Cowell and Randy Jackson will all be returning for the fourth season.