Music Buzz, Silver Screens

Luke Bryan & Lionel Richie Join American Idol as Judges

Legendary R&B musician Lionel Richie and Country star Luke Bryan are joining Katy Perry at the American Idol judges’ table. Open auditions for the AI re-vamp on ABC are set to begin Tuesday.

“Luke and Lionel are the perfect additions to round out our panel of judges for ‘American Idol’ on ABC,” said Channing Dungey, president of ABC Entertainment. “In their respective genres of music, both Luke and Lionel possess insurmountable popularity and award-winning talent that are undeniable, and we are lucky that they will help in paving the way for hopefuls pursuing their dreams on our stage.”

“I’m excited at the chance to help some deserving artists reach their dreams,” said Bryan in a statement. “To be in a position in my career to help facilitate this along with the other judges is just a complete honor. It’s gonna be a blast!”

“I am very excited to be joining Katy, Luke and Ryan on American Idol,” Richie added. “As a singer, songwriter and producer, I feel I can bring a great deal of experience to the table. It’s going to be so much fun!”

The network and producers had trouble finding talent to fill the other seats at the judging table after signing Perry back in May to a deal that gives her $25 million for one season. Ryan Seacrest later struck a deal that gave him $15 million to come back to host this season. The Perry and Seacrest deals left fewer than $10 million in ABC’s talent budget. But Richie and ABC were able to come to terms after an extensive search that considered top acts such as Charlie Puth, Dolly Parton, Common, and Troy Carter.

Peter Hurwitz, CEO and president of 19 Entertainment-parent Core Media Group, also a producer on the show, said, “This extraordinary panel of judges speaks volumes about the continued power of the iconic ‘American Idol’ brand. We are thrilled to have Lionel Richie and Luke Bryan join Katy Perry and, ultimately, millions of viewers as we begin this new era on ABC.”

ABC hasn’t announced a premiere date for the “Idol” reboot, but the network is considering a debut in March, after the network’s telecast of the Academy Awards.

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